Dental Problems and Treatments During Pregnancy

A pregnant woman at dentist's

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Pregnancy is a time of joy and celebration as you are on your way to creating a new life that will change your life for the good. However, it also has its own sets of complications which may be big or trivial. One of the problems which get ignored is a dental problem. For instance, you might find yourself having excessively bad breath one fine morning…and you might wonder why is this happening? What did I eat? Is this normal? Well, to all your queries read on to find out what kind of dental problems you may have.

Should Pregnant Woman Visit to Dentist?

It is absolutely safe to visit your dentist when you are pregnant. It is recommended that any filling or crowning that needs to be done should be carried out at the earliest to reduce the chances of infections. The second trimester is a convenient time of your pregnancy to get all your dental procedures done since you might have difficulty in lying on your back for long periods during the third trimester. Also, inform your dentist of any medications you are on to avoid complications.

A woman with a toothache

Signs of Dental Issues in Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a wonderful yet tough time. And it gets worse if you have a dental problem during this time. These are the common signs of a dental problem that you may come across during pregnancy:

  • Sore Gums
  • Bad breath
  • Loose teeth
  • Mouth sores
  • A toothache

Common Dental Problems in Pregnancy

Here are some dental issues that can crop up during pregnancy:

  1. Pregnancy Tumour
    This refers to an overgrowth of tissues in the gum but is not cancerous. This generally occurs in the second trimester due to hormonal changes in the body and gets better after the pregnancy. The overgrowth usually resembles raspberries and might result in bleeding. It is an inflammatory reaction to irritation such as bacteria or food particles and occurs in 10% of pregnant woman. Your dentist can remove the swelling using a simple procedure under a local anaesthetic. If the swelling is not removed your dentist might find the underlying cause, such as plaque and remove it.
  2. Pregnancy Gingivitis
    Gingivitis is the swelling and inflammation of gums that occurs due to the bacterial growth on teeth resulting in plaque. This irritates the gum making it red, swollen, and sensitive. The hormonal changes in the body exaggerate the way gum tissue reacts to plaque buildup. Treating this condition is very important as it can affect the growth of the foetus and can lead to underweight babies.
  3. Increased Acidity
    There is an increased probability of acid reflux and heartburn during pregnancy. Combined with the morning sickness this can elevate the acid levels in your mouth and erode your teeth. Hence, be extra dedicated towards dental hygiene during pregnancy. Make sure to regularly wash your mouth and brush twice a day.

Can You Get Dental Procedure Done While Pregnant?

Dental hygiene is important during pregnancy to avoid any complications for the baby in the long run. All routine examinations and procedures such as cleaning, periodontal treatments, root canal, and dental fillings during pregnancy can be safely carried out. Dental treatments during pregnancy can also help you avoid any complications that might arise due to unattended dental problems. It is generally safer to avoid dental treatments during the first trimester as this is the time when the all the organs of the foetus develop. The second trimester is seen as the ideal time to carry out such treatments since the foetus is engaged only in further growth and development. In the third trimester, getting the dental procedure won’t pose any complications for the baby but lying on back for dental procedures, for a long span of time can be difficult for pregnant women.

Tooth Extraction During Pregnancy

If a tooth is severely damaged, the dentist may recommend removing it during the second trimester. And it is completely safe and will help you in avoiding x-rays during the first trimester when the baby is developing and also during the third trimester when lying on the back gets difficult. X-rays, antibiotics, and anaesthetics needed for the procedure are also considered safe. Doctors use antibiotics to prevent or treat infections in teeth. The commonly used antibiotics such as amoxicillin and penicillin are safe to use during pregnancy. And even X-rays are not harmful at all if done properly. The most commonly used anaesthetic, lidocaine, passes through the placenta but has been proven as pregnancy safe.

A pregnant woman talking to a dentist

Can You Do Root Canal During Pregnancy?

A root canal is done to remove the pulp beneath the badly infected teeth before it spreads to the periapical region. It can be carried out at any time during the pregnancy if required. The ideal time is the second trimester. Any complex case can be referred to endodontists, who specialise in root canal treatment.

Teeth Whitening While Pregnant

Teeth whitening and other such procedures can be categorised as non-essential dental procedures that can ideally be postponed to a date after the delivery. But as such, they pose no risk to the baby, other than the discomfort you might face during the session. If you are using a teeth whitening kit at home, ensure that the level of hydrogen peroxide in the materials used is not higher than six percent. Higher concentrations have the potential to cause tissue damage.

Is Orthodontic Treatment Safe While Pregnant?

If you had braces put in before pregnancy, it is recommended to carry out all the routine examinations and check-ups while pregnant. The hormonal changes in your body might loosen your teeth, which might lead to changes in your orthodontic treatment plan. Braces do not pose any threat to the developing foetus. However, there are a few pointers to be noted if you are planning to get braces during your pregnancy. Orthodontic treatments might put you through x-rays, antibiotics, and anaesthetics. This procedure doesn’t harm the baby or a pregnant woman but is best kept to the minimum possible level required. Also getting used to the braces while pregnant might not be the easiest thing to do as there are many other issues to deal during this time – morning sickness, heartburn, and other discomforts. Braces might also come in the way of your pregnancy cravings since crunchy and sticky food items are to be avoided when you have your braces on.

Is Dental Anaesthesia Safe for You during Pregnancy?

Local anaesthetics used during dental procedures are deemed pregnancy safe. Lidocaine, the most commonly used anaesthetic passes through the placenta but does not cause any harm to the foetus. Pregnant women are always recommended to use a minimum dose of anaesthetics since pain might result in psychological reactions unfavourable for a pregnant woman. Laughing gas and other general anaesthetics are generally avoided during pregnancy.

Is it Safe to Get Dental X-rays When Pregnant?

Dental checkups during pregnancy may require x-rays to be taken. These x-rays are safe during pregnancy. Modern x-rays have radiations in low doses, and a single x-ray cannot do any harm to your baby. Dentists also ensure that your baby is protected from the radiations by using a lead apron and thyroid shield.

Are Dental Medications Safe During Pregnancy?

Inform your dentist of the medications you are on. The antibiotics used by dentists to treat or prevent infections are safe for pregnant women. The commonly used antibiotics are amoxicillin and penicillin.

Dental Hygiene Routine During Pregnancy

Prevention is always better than cure. So, why not take care of your teeth to avoid complications. Follow this dental hygiene routine during pregnancy and stay healthy:

  • Keep your doctor informed: While visiting your dentist keep him informed of all your medications and prenatal vitamins. Your dentist might change your medications and treatments based on this information.
  • Maintain oral hygiene: Dental care during pregnancy should ideally consist of brushing twice a day and flossing at least thrice a week. If morning sickness is preventing you from brushing your teeth change your toothpaste to the one that tastes better. Wait for 30 minutes to brush after throwing up so that the acid levels in your mouth return to normal. Since the acidity level in your mouth might also increase due to acid reflux and heartburns, make sure to rinse your mouth regularly after each meal.

    A pregnant woman brushing her teeth

  • Routine Check-ups: Do not delay your dental check-ups because of your pregnancy. Hormonal changes in your body can put you at an increased risk of periodontal diseases and gingivitis. If you notice any swelling or bleeding of gums visit your dentist soon.
  • Healthy diet: Your diet determines the health of your teeth as well as that of your baby. Include dairy products in your meals for strong teeth.
  • Balanced cravings: You might crave for sugary snacks and indulge in them. Make sure to do it within a limit; overindulging can put you at a risk of developing dental problems.

Dental care is an unavoidable component of a healthy pregnancy. Ensure that your teeth get adequate attention during this time. The hormonal changes can make your teeth and gums more prone to diseases. Check in with your dentist for routine check-ups without failure since your dental health also plays a role in the proper development of your baby. Also, seek your dentist’s advice to deal with any dental issues that might arise during pregnancy.

Also Read: Tooth Extraction While Pregnant – Signs & Precautions to Take