You may be wondering whether it's safe to have routine dental treatment when pregnant or whether you'd be better holding off until you've given birth. There are times when you should opt for treatment and occasions when it's best to wait. So that there isn't more confusion, here is an overview of safe dental care during pregnancy.
When to Have Treatment While Pregnant
Professional teeth cleaning and routine check-ups are recommended in pregnancy as changes to your hormone levels can leave you susceptible to gum infections. Your gums tend to soften in pregnancy, which makes it easier for food to get trapped and cause inflammation. This puts you at a greater risk of developing gum disease, which has been linked to premature birth, so regular dental check-ups are good for your baby, too.
If you require any treatment to maintain healthy teeth and gums while you're pregnant, you may feel reassured to know that local anesthetics and dental X-rays are safe and won't harm your baby. The placental barrier will protect your baby from the effects of local anaesthetic, so you don't need to suffer through the pain of toothache for months until you deliver.
Dental X-rays emit a tiny amount of radiation and are not associated with low birth weight or preterm birth, but you should let your dentist know you're pregnant before you have an X-ray. This will give them the opportunity to place additional shields over your body just as a precaution.
Note that non-urgent treatment may be more comfortable for you to undergo during your second trimester as any morning sickness will hopefully have passed and your growing bump won't yet be too big for you to lie back easily in the treatment chair.
When to Wait Until After the Birth
Pregnancy weakens your immune system, so you're at an increased risk of developing an infection while you're expecting. Dental treatment, just like any other type of medical procedure, carries a small risk of infection, so it's sensible to postpone any unnecessary treatment until after your baby's born. You may want to wait to have the following done:
- Teeth whitening
- Teeth straightening
- Replacing fillings for purely cosmetic reasons
Your dentist can give you advice on how to look after your teeth and gums during pregnancy and let you know about common signs of oral health problems to keep an eye out for. They can also give you some tips on protecting your teeth from acid erosion when you have morning sickness such as adding xylitol to your daily oral health regimen. So, ensure you see your dentist for a thorough examination during your pregnancy and have any pain or swelling of your gums checked out by a local clinic like Cambridge City Dental.