There seem to be a whole genre of books and articles written for pregnant women (and the people who love them) specifically intent on scaring those same women with all the dangers that abound for pregnant women in the modern world. Laundry lists of chemicals to avoid (All natural laundry detergent alternatives…), foods to banish from your diet (hidden dangers of deli meats…), activities to abstain from (How changes to your joint flexibility makes sport more dangerous…) are available at the turn of the page or click of the mouse.
This is not one of those articles.
We’re here to reassure you of something there is no need to fear during pregnancy–visiting your dentist. Visiting your dentist, far from being worth of fear, can help you have a happier, healthier pregnancy.
But Is It Safe?
Consensus says YES. Regular cleanings are safe for mom and growing baby. Pregnancy hormones can make gums more swollen, so cleanings during pregnancy are more important to make sure plaques don’t develop and lead to gum infections.
Modern composite fillings get a consensus says YES. Older amalgam fillings get a CAUTION due to their mercury content. It’s important to treat dental infections, including cavities (still an infection), during pregnancy. You don’t want to let infections grow unchecked during pregnancy, harming the health of the mother or her growing child. It’s actually safer to treat gum disease or cavities than to let the infection continue untreated.
If dental procedures are done during pregnancy, it’s a good idea to have the work done during the second trimester. During the third trimester, laying back long enough for the dental work can be hard on both mom and baby. Don’t delay having work done until it causes additional discomfort.
Consensus says YES, with caution.
Lidocaine, the most common dental anesthetic, is pregnancy category B (no risks have been found in humans). The mom-to-be should not forego anesthesia during potentially uncomfortable procedures thinking it is safer for her baby. The body’s stress reaction to pain is far more dangerous to her child than any potential risk from pain relief. Discuss with the dentist how to use the lowest appropriate amount of anesthesia, and don’t hesitate to ask for more if it improves your comfort during the procedure.
Consensus says YES.
If a pregnant mom needs an x-ray for diagnostic reasons, the ACOG and the ADA have said that properly shielded dental x-rays are acceptable. However, most women will delay routine x-rays with cleanings until after the baby is born. This is perfectly fine with your dentist’s blessing, and most dentists will suggest delaying unnecessary x-rays or other procedures until after baby is born.
Regular Home Care
Consensus says YES, and it’s more important than ever.
Having a healthy, well established daily oral care routine is the backbone of easy dental cleanings. During pregnancy, hormone shifts can cause more sensitive gums and an increase in cavity susceptibility. Using products like the CariFree CTx7 Kit that focus on preventing cavities can save mom to be and her baby from additional procedures and stress.
There is a huge upshot to regular dental care and treating infections early during pregnancy. Studies have shown that poor dental care is associated with a whole host of pregnancy complications. Your good care habits and fearless trips to the dentist are helping you lower your risk of: premature delivery, intrauterine growth restriction, gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.
The dentist, then, is not to be feared and avoided, but added to your regular maternity care routine.