What is Safe?
An expectant Mum spends a great deal of the nine months of her pregnancy visiting with medical professionals. But here's a question for you; is it safe for those visits to include trips to the dentist?
If you answered 'no', you are wrong. But you are far from alone. Over the years skipping professional dental care while pregnant has joined other outdated advice - pregnant ladies shouldn't ever exercise, expectant mums should eat for two. That has been debunked by the medical profession but is a myth that is perpetrated by scare-mongering blog posts or well-meaning (but incorrect) friends and relatives.
Why You Should Nor to Skip Dental Care in Pregnancy
Unfortunately, studies here in Australia, as well as research conducted in the UK and the States, has found that up to half of expectant mums in any given year deal with serious dental issues like bleeding gums and pain and fail to make a dental appointment to get them addressed either because they assume such things are just another of the not so nice aspects of pregnancy or that visiting the dentists while expecting simply isn't safe.
The fact is though, not only is it safe to do so but very much advisable, as recent research has found that a lack of dental care in pregnancy can harm an unborn baby as well as his (or her) Mum.
Gum Disease and Unborn Babies
The research we mentioned studied a connection between premature birth and low birth weight and periodontal (gum) disease. Several studies have demonstrated some connection, and while more are ongoing to confirm these initial findings the common wisdom so far is that the inflammation and low grade infection that gum disease often causes leads to the body into concluding that Baby would be safer out in the world rather than in Mum's tum, and premature labour is triggered.
Good daily brushing and flossing can help keep gum disease at bay but as the hormonal changes that occur in pregnancy often soften gum tissue a preventative visit to the dentist is never a bad idea, just make sure that the staff are aware of your pregnancy, as some things, like x-rays, are not safe in pregnancy without special precautions being taken.
The Morning Sickness Problem
Morning sickness is one of the biggest downsides of pregnancy for many women, but there is a lot of comfort to be found in the fact that, for most, it goes away by the end of the first trimester.
It can leave damage to the teeth behind it though. Vomiting every day can erode the enamel of the teeth significantly, leading to cavities that should be treated as soon as possible to avoid tooth damage (or tooth loss'). Therefore, waiting another six to seven months until Baby has arrived to see a dentist is not a good idea.
It is agreed by both dentists and OBs these days that simple procedures like dental cleanings and fillings are perfectly safe in pregnancy, although an expectant Mum may want to schedule elective dental procedures before the 20-week mark, simply for her own comfort, as an hour in the dentist's chair can be rather uncomfortable for a heavily pregnant lady. In fact, many OBs now advise that a dental exam be a standard part of those essential first trimester checkups, both for the sake of Mum and her unborn child.
The Emergency Dentist Says:
A visit to the dentist really isn't something you should skip in pregnancy, even if you are not one of our biggest fans! If a dental visit is something that usually scares you a bit anyway, remember this time you'll be protecting your baby's health as well as your own, and we promise we'll be gentle!