Pregnancy means an endless amount of checkups, ultrasounds, and doctor’s visits, but have you thought to check in with your dentist? Common misconceptions may have told you that a trip to the dentist is unsafe during pregnancy, but years of research show that dentist visits during pregnancy are actually incredibly necessary. Keep reading to learn how pregnancy makes you more susceptible to dental ailments like swollen and bleeding gums.
Is it safe?
It’s possible that you have been taught to believe that pregnancy means no dental treatment at all. However, this is not the case. Several studies, including one by the National Institute of Health, say that treatments like local anesthetics, x-rays and certain antibiotics do not create an increased risk to the developing fetus. Alternately, not receiving treatment for infections or other dental issues has been associated with low birth weight, premature birth and preeclampsia. Maintaining your oral health is the best option for you and your baby.
Is it necessary?
Pregnancy is a time when mothers are at an even higher risk for dental issues. First, changes in hormones cause a woman to have an increase in harmful bacteria in her mouth, increasing the likelihood for infections. This causes painful swollen gums that can affect one’s quality of life.
Second, morning sickness can mean frequent nausea and vomiting, meaning that stomach acid is corroding your teeth more often. This acid continually interacting with your teeth makes them more susceptible to decay and disease. This infection can be easily treated with a dentist who can prescribe treatment that will not harm the mother or baby.
What other steps can I take?
Taking care of your oral health during pregnancy is clearly both safe and necessary, but what else can be done? Here are some tips to keep your smile at its best:
- Eat a balanced diet. Keep eating healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. Eating healthy benefits your entire well-being, which is good both for the mother and baby. Do your best to avoid any excess sugar, which can harm your teeth. There are plenty of foods and snacks that aren’t packed with sugar, and eliminating sugar is a great step on the path to healthiness. Instead of soft drinks that are loaded with sugar, switch out for water. Last, if you have any dental issues, avoid foods that will make the problems worse. For instance, if you have any dental pain, don’t eat any tough or hard-to-chew foods.
- Brush and floss your teeth. These habits are necessary to maintain the health of your teeth. Brushing and flossing keep your teeth from building up plaque that can cause periodontal disease and tooth decay. Brushing your teeth may be difficult due to an increased gag reflex during pregnancy, however there are ways to make the habit easier. Consider switching to another brand or flavor of fluoride toothpaste that won’t upset your stomach as much, or change the times at which you brush your teeth. If you have a strong gag reflex, you can also “dry brush” your teeth to dislodge bacteria, followed by a fluoride rinse to further protect teeth. Do whatever works best for you to keep your brushing and flossing routine.
- Visit your dentist and get all necessary work done. Make a plan for your care with your dentist. Be sure to inform your dentist that you are pregnant, as this will change the medicines you may be prescribed or the treatments that may be suggested to you. The second trimester is considered to be the best time for any elective dental treatments, as it’s the time where the mother will be the most comfortable during any prolonged surgeries or other treatments. Procedures can be done in the first and third trimesters if necessary, though they may cause unnecessary stress on a mother if the procedure is not essential.
Do you want to protect your smile during your pregnancy? Excel Dental in Ozark knows what to do to keep you Smiling Healthy!
Drs. Davis and Matthews will work with you to prepare a treatment plan for your pregnancy. Contact us today to schedule your next appointment!