Congratulations, mommy-to-be! While it may be far from your mind right now, this is a very important time to think about the health of your teeth and mouth.
Going to the dentist while you are pregnant is safe. In fact, your mouth may need extra attention during the next several months, as the changes in hormone levels due to pregnancy may increase your risk of dental problems.
Common oral problems during pregnancy include:
- Cavities – Cravings for sweet snacks and increased acidity can put pregnant women at higher risk of tooth decay. Be sure to brush twice daily with fluoride toothpaste and limit sugary foods (as much as baby will let you).
- Gingivitis – Between 30 and 100% of pregnant women experience redness, inflammation and bleeding of the gums. Tooth brushing, flossing and rinsing with salt water may help with the irritation. Pregnancy gingivitis usually peaks during the third trimester, so if your dental benefits include a third cleaning option, be sure to take advantage of the benefit.
- Pyogenic Granuloma – Also known as pregnancy oral tumors, these lesions are most common after the first trimester, grow rapidly and may bleed spontaneously. Pregnancy tumors occur in about 5-10% of pregnancies and often disappear after the baby is born.
If you haven’t been to the dentist in a while, your dentist may want to X-ray your teeth. Are dental X-rays safe during pregnancy? Yes. According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, dental X-rays are safe for pregnant women. In addition, no single X-ray produces enough radiation exposure to harm a developing fetus.
If your dentist recommends treatment for cavities, gum disease or other oral health conditions, don’t wait. Untreated dental disease can be harmful for both the mother and the baby. The American Pregnancy Association recommends that dental treatments be performed during the second trimester of pregnancy.
For more information on maintaining a healthy mouth while pregnant, check out Oral Health During Pregnancy: What to Expect When Expecting by the American Dental Association. If you have any questions or concerns about dental care during pregnancy, you can also check with your health care provider.