Short answer: Don't fail to do essentials like teeth cleaning at the dentist. Postpone cosmetic dentistry till after the pregnancy.
The rise in hormone levels during pregnancy causes sensitive and inflamed gums. Also, the bacteria from gum disease can affect the baby adversely.
- It is very important to do normal preventive dental work (dental check-ups, routine teeth cleaning etc.) because of the pregnancy changes. Routine teeth cleaning is safe.
- The safest course of action is to postpone all unnecessary dental work until childbirth. However, sometimes, emergency dental work such as a root canal or tooth extraction is necessary.
- But dental work such as cavity fillings need to be done to reduce the chance of infection. If dental work is done during pregnancy, the second trimester is ideal. Once you reach the third trimester, you might find it difficult to lie on your back for a long time.
- Cosmetic procedures like teeth whitening etc. should be postponed until after childbirth. It is best to avoid exposing the developing baby to strong chemicals.
- The medications used during dental work do cross the placenta and reach the baby but there is no conclusive research on adverse effects on the baby of using these medications. Dentists are careful to use minimal anaesthesia, just enough to make you comfortable. If you feel pain, do ask for more anaesthesia or other pain relief. There is no point in getting stressed with unbearable pain. Remember your stress affects the baby also. Also, if you are relaxed, the anaesthesia will work better.
- The dental x-rays are far away from the abdomen and also the radiations are not very high. But to be safe routine dental x-rays should be postponed until after pregnancy if possible. If there is a problem and dental x-ray is needed, dentists do take precautions while taking x-rays of your teeth. Usually, Dentists will make you wear a metallic covering over your abdomen.
Here is how you can take care of your teeth during pregnancy:
- Brush your teeth thoroughly, twice a day. Ask your dentist about flossing. Flossing can really take out particles from your teeth and help prevent gum disease.
- Eat a nutritious well-balanced diet.
- Have preventive check-ups and teeth cleaning during your pregnancy.
While at the dentist:
- Let your dentist know that you are pregnant
- Keep your legs uncrossed while you sit in the dentist’s chair. This will keep the flow of circulation and prevent swelling.
- Take a pillow to be more comfortable.
- Listen to your own music.