Your teeth may be the last thing on your mind during pregnancy, but your oral health is actually a very important part of your body to consider during this time. Not only can dental problems affect an expectant mother, they can also impact her unborn baby. Here are some things to keep in mind about your oral health if you are pregnant.
Increased hormone levels during pregnancy can cause gum bleeding, inflammation, and higher risk of trapped food. Gum disease is more likely during pregnancy; in fact, gingivitis affects 60 to 75 percent of expectant mothers. If untreated, periodontal disease and tooth loss can occur. Pre-term births are even linked to gum disease. Therefore, following a strict routine of brushing and flossing will help avoid oral health problems.
Women should continue to see their dentist throughout pregnancy. Tell your dental professionals that you are pregnant so that appropriate precautions can be taken. The second trimester is the perfect time to schedule a checkup. If you require extensive dental treatment like fillings, root canals, crowns, or extractions, discuss the procedures with both your dentist and your doctor to ensure your health and that of your baby are protected.
Avoid routine X-rays during pregnancy. In some cases, X-rays are essential to handling a serious dental problem. According to the American College of Radiology, a single diagnostic X-ray does not contain enough radiation to harm your baby.
Dosages of any medication should be kept as low as possible. Category B drugs are considered safe in limited amounts. Be careful not to overmedicate yourself with over-the-counter pain relievers for a dental problem. Even though some drugs are approved, that doesn’t mean they can be taken in high doses. If antibiotics are needed, ask your dentist about which ones are approved to be safe for unborn children.
Undergoing anesthesia should be avoided while pregnant. Lidocaine is commonly used in dental procedures, and is known to cross the placenta. This means that if it is used, the dosage should be kept low.