Pregnancy is a difficult time for women, especially when this is their first time. Mood swings can lead to a sense of confusion and depression. Dental problems are an added complication as the expectant mother wonders: how will the stress and medication affect my unborn child?
Have regular dental check-ups.
The good news is that dental work need not affect an unborn child at all, although the mother may find lying on her back on a dentist’s couch uncomfortable after reaching the third trimester. It is actually more than usually important to visit a dentist regularly for a check-up throughout pregnancy, because raging hormones may cause gums to swell, trap food and bleed, causing unwanted distractions. Moreover, scientists have linked the gum disease that could follow on these minor problems to pre-term births.
Do not defer essential dental work, but do avoid elective treatments
While necessary cavity fillings, root canal treatments, extractions and crown work should continue to receive attention during pregnancy, it is safer to avoid elective work such as teeth whitening and other cosmetic treatments. This is because it is best to avoid the slightest risk to a developing baby, and to allow you time to concentrate on other things.
Dental medications and their risks:
Medical research has not taken a unanimous decision on the subject of the effect of dental medications on an unborn child. Thus, the best is to be careful, and to keep the level of medication as low as possible.
• Anesthetics: The most commonly used dental anesthetic is lidocaine, which is known to cross the placenta following administration to the mother. For this reason, a lower dose is recommended, just to relax you and dull the pain. If you find it insufficient, you could also ask for a little more.
• Antibiotics: If your dentist decides to prescribe an antibiotic, make sure that they choose a category b one (for example amoxicillin, clindamycin or penicillin) that has been reported as safe in pregnancy.
• X-Rays: Routine x-rays that are part of a normal dental check-up should be avoided. Do not stress, though, if one becomes necessary because a problem has developed – the American College of Radiology has determined that a single diagnostic x-ray is insufficient to cause adverse effects in a developing embryo or fetus.
Routine dental maintenance:
Greater dental care is recommended during pregnancy because of the impact that hormone changes may have on your gums. Here is a summary of the recommendations of the American Dental Association, to keep your teeth and gums healthy, and you and baby happy throughout your pregnancy as well:
• Follow a healthy balanced diet, brush your teeth after every meal, and floss daily.
• Make sure that your dentist knows that you are pregnant before any advice or treatment.
• Have regular dental check-ups that include de-scaling.
• Postpone non-essential dental work and elective procedures until after delivery.
• When you do visit the dentist for check-ups or other essential treatments, avoid crossing your legs, take a pillow with you to keep both you and baby comfortable, and relax while you listen to your favorite music on your headphones.
When you follow this advice, and listen to your doctors too, then you should have healthy gums and teeth, and a good prognosis for your pregnancy.