by Dr Clara Gibson
Dr Clara advises that you can rest assured, the old adage that the mother “loses a tooth for every baby” is nothing more than an old wives tale. The good news is that tooth loss is not a consequence of pregnancy and it is safe to continue seeing your dentist while pregnant. There are some extra precautions you can take though and you may notice a few changes in your mouth during pregnancy.
Pregnancy is accompanied by a myriad of changes within the body, involving hormones, the heart, circulation, lungs, gastrointestinal changes and more.
Pregnancy gingivitis is a well-recognised phenomenon. Gums may become swollen, red and bleed easily. This is not directly due to pregnancy though but more a result of plaque or food debris that is on the teeth. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can make your gums more reactive to any plaque left on the teeth. The good news, therefore, is that this is entirely avoidable. A thorough home routine of brushing and flossing will prevent plaque build up and any inflammation. Ladies who experience more serious gum disease (periodontal disease) with loosening of teeth during pregnancy were generally predisposed to this condition prior to pregnancy, and so they notice an exacerbation in their gum disease. You can rest assured that pregnancy alone will not cause your teeth to get loose and fall out.
Expectant mothers frequently wonder whether “medications and dental drugs are safe during pregnancy”, and this is a valid concern. The short answer is, not all. However, there are still plenty of suitable medications that are entirely safe to use. Your dentist will be familiar with the pain medication and antibiotics which are safe and will also help direct you away from those which research has shown may cause issues. Luckily, the commonly used dental anaesthetics to make teeth numb have been shown to be entirely safe during pregnancy. Dental x-rays are also very low in radiation dose and safe during pregnancy. They are approximately a 10 times lower radiation dose than what is absorbed on a long haul flight. However, usually your dentist will still avoid taking any x-rays during pregnancy, unless absolutely essential.
So the question remains, “Should I go to the dentist while pregnant or not?” Absolutely, yes! You are very welcome to attend your dentist for check-ups and we would be happy to see you during this exciting time in your life. You may even wish to schedule hygiene appointments a little more frequently during this period to keep on top of cleaning. However, most dentists would agree that any non-essential work is better postponed until after your baby arrives. This includes treatments such as non-essential fillings, veneers and cosmetic treatments. Tooth whitening should also be postponed as the bleaching agent can cause an increased release of mercury from silver fillings, and although this amount is still well below any danger level, it is not essential treatment. Your dentist will help guide you so that you don’t need any additional stress due to worrying about dental risks.
Dentists are highly trained in all the physiological changes associated with pregnancy but be sure to let them know about your good news. It will be possible to change the dental chair position, so that you don’t have to lie fully flat and cushions will help support you. Morning appointments are generally best avoided if you suffer from nausea. And lastly, don’t forget to book your little one in for a visit to the dentist as soon as they have some baby teeth!
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