Ask Your Hygienist – Pregnancy and Prevention

What to Expect at Your Dental Visit When You’re Expecting

Funny picture of an expecting mother.Pregnancy is not an isolated bodily experience, as any pregnant woman can attest to. From morning sickness to mood swings to leg cramps, pregnancy affects your body as a whole and your teeth and gums are no exception. Questions like “In what trimester should I have dental work done?” and “Is it safe to get my teeth cleaned while I’m pregnant?” may not be crossing your mind as you pray for the constant waves of nausea to pass. Rest assured, giving your mouth the attention it needs during these 9 months will be worth it, not only for you but for that beautiful bundle of joy as well.

1st Trimester

This can be the trickiest time in pregnancy to have dental work done. Due to the massive amounts of hormones coursing through their bodies, most women are dealing with morning sickness, not to mention food and smell aversions. Another common issue is bleeding gums. If you have any or all of these symptoms, don’t fret. Here are some great tips to get you, and your sensitive mouth, through this phase:

1. Drink as much water as you can tolerate. Water by itself, or with a mild flavor, is a
great way to help with the nausea by keeping you hydrated. If you are actually getting
sick, rinse your mouth with water afterward instead of brushing immediately. Wait 20
minutes to brush to allow time for your mouth to rebalance its acidity level and avoid
damage to your enamel.

2. Avoid the nausea triggers, whatever they may be. Whether you can’t stand the sight of
avocado, or the mint in your toothpaste is making you gag, there is always an alternative.
If the flavoring of your dental products is making your stomach turn, head to your local
grocery store and spend a little time in the dental aisle. Many product lines make flavors
from cinnamon to orange to bubblegum. You can also replace your mouthwash with a
solution of 1 part Hydrogen Peroxide/1 part Water, swish for 30 seconds. It’s flavorless
and easy for some women to handle as opposed to the strong mouthwashes they were
using prior to pregnancy.

3. Bleeding gums are usually a sign to get in for a dental checkup. In some cases, the
excessive amounts of hormones cause an increased sensitivity to the bacteria in plaque
and slight bleeding can occur. In others, it could be a sign of a more serious underlying
problem, such as severe gingivitis or periodontal disease (which can be harmful to your
baby- with links to low birth weight and pre-term births). Either way, get scheduled for
a cleaning and checkup with your dental office. Make sure you aren’t sick when you
go in for your cleaning, it can introduce bad bacteria to the baby. Also, disclose your
pregnancy to your dentist so they can avoid taking X-rays as much as possible (barring a
dental emergency).

Pregnant woman taking care of oral health.2nd Trimester

According to the American Pregnancy Association this is the safest time in pregnancy to have any dental work done or necessary X-rays taken, since it is after fetal organs have developed. While there may be certain situations where your dentist may recommend having more major work completed to avoid further problems, there is also the case for having minor work wait until after you deliver to be completed. Be sure to discuss all these options with your dentist. After delivery, get any necessary fillings, etc. done in a timely manner. The bad bacteria that causes cavities is also extremely contagious, and you don’t want to pass that along to your newborn.

This is also a time where the nausea and morning sickness of pregnancy should hopefully be subsiding, making regular home care easier. Follow your hygienist’s advice, making sure to brush twice daily and floss in the evenings. If you see any bleeding, gently re-clean the area and monitor daily for continued bleeding. Any infection should generally heal in approximately 7-10 days, report any continued bleeding, swollen or painful areas to your dentist.

3rd Trimester

Dental work during the third trimester is safe, but may not be very comfortable for mom-to-be. Due to the size of your growing belly, Photo of a healthy baby.laying on your back for extended periods of time can be stressful on you, and subsequently stressful on baby. Your dentist should have pillows and blankets available to help you to lay on your side, but feel free to bring anything you think may help to you get through your appointment. Taking care of your mouth and body during pregnancy will have you reaping the benefits of living cavity and disease free. Getting regular check-ups combined with good home care will give you and your little one a great head start, so get your appointment scheduled today!

P. Tscherpel, RDH

Paige is our hygienist at Westminster Dental Health in Westminster, CO.