No matter what stage of life you’re at, whether you’re pregnant or not, it’s always important to visit the dentist every 6 months for checkups and cleanings. This is the most effective way to prevent tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease.
However, this is particularly important during pregnancy. Unfortunately, many pregnant women think they need to skimp out on their regular dental checkups because they assume that even if they have dental problems, they can’t get them treated until after pregnancy.
In this blog from Dodds Dental, we’re going to explain why not only is that not true but there are numerous dental issues that pregnant women have a higher risk of developing. To find out what dental issues pregnant women should watch out for, what treatments are safe, and how to maintain good oral health, read on.
Why It’s Important to Go to the Dentist When Pregnant
As soon as you learn that you are pregnant or suspect that you are pregnant, you should alert your dentist right away. This is to protect the health of you and your baby. Your dentist can give you information and start screening for early detection of dental problems that pregnant women are prone to developing.
In addition to looking out for the development of cavities and gingivitis, you should let your dentist know if you suspect you are pregnant so they can take preventative measures to protect the health of your unborn child.
Some procedures may need to be postponed until after birth, but most routine dental work is perfectly safe. X-rays will only be taken when necessary and your dentist will cover your belly with a lead apron to protect your child from radiation.
Common Pregnancy Dental Problems
Due to increased snacking on sugary and starchy foods, morning sickness, and hormonal changes, pregnant women are disproportionately at risk for developing:
- Tooth decay
- Gum tumors
- Enamel erosion
Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease. If left untreated, it will worsen into severe gum disease which can lead to tooth loss and damage to the jaw. Pregnant women have a heightened inflammatory response to bacteria which makes them more susceptible to gingivitis.
Pregnant women have a higher risk of tooth decay due to many different factors, the first being that morning sickness introduces more acids into the mouth. Acids break down tooth enamel, which over time can lead to cavities.
Pregnant women are also eating a lot more and more frequently than normal. These foods tend to be high in carbohydrates and sugar, which put you at a higher risk of developing cavities. Bacteria in the mouth feed off of starches and sugar to convert them into acids, which lead to tooth decay.
If you notice little pimple-like tumors around your gums, these are non-cancerous pregnancy gum tumors that often occur during the second trimester. They are caused by plaque buildup and hormonal changes. While these are not a cause for worry, they can be uncomfortable and you may want to visit your dentist to have them removed.
Safety of Dental Treatments During Pregnancy
When tooth decay, enamel erosion, and gingivitis are left untreated, they lead to an infection. It is very important to attend regular dental checkups and cleanings to prevent tooth decay and gingivitis from developing in the first place.
These dental problems can have serious consequences on the health of you and your baby, leading to preterm birth or low birth weight. An untreated infection can also spread through the body. When the infection spreads through the bloodstream, this can cause sepsis, which can be fatal.
The following are all considered safe dental treatments during pregnancy:
- Dental cleanings & checkups
- Necessary x-rays with a lead apron
- Local anesthesia
- Certain antibiotics and medications
- Root canals
Book Your Checkup & Cleaning at Dodds Dental
The best way to maintain good oral health during pregnancy is to brush your teeth and floss twice a day. You should also swish around water in your mouth after vomiting instead of immediately brushing your teeth to prevent enamel erosion.
Besides practicing good oral hygiene, you should ensure that you book a dental checkup & cleaning soon after learning that you are pregnant for preventative measures. At Dodds Dental, we can remove buildup of plaque and tartar, look for signs of decay or gum disease, remove food particles, and apply a protective fluoride treatment to your teeth. Contact us today to schedule an appointment in Long Beach with Dr. Emily Dodds or Dr. Dustin Dodds.