We get it: people don’t always enjoy their time at the dentist! Expectant mothers have enough on their plate as it is, and adding another appointment to the fray might not seem feasible or even realistic. But hear us out: there’s more than bad breath on the line! Your changing body is growing a brand new life, and your baby gets more than just nourishment from whatever is going on in your mouth.
Studies gathered by the American Dental Association (ADA) show a direct relationship between gum disease and adverse pregnancy outcomes. [Source: https://www.ada.org/en/member-center/oral-health-topics/pregnancy ] Evidence suggests that infants and even young children get cavity-causing bacteria from their mothers – even more reason to keep your dental hygiene in check!
What To Watch For
Unfortunately, many health professionals forget to tell pregnant women about extra precautions they can take to prevent tooth decay. At the same time, expectant mothers might not notice warning signs like swollen or bleeding gums and toothaches as they adjust to other higher-priority physiological changes. Researchers are finding links between gum diseases and pre-term birth, low birthweight babies, low birthweight babies born prematurely, and the development of preeclampsia.
These worrying results are potentially triggered by dental conditions common during pregnancy. Ailments like gingivitis are more prevalent thanks to hormonal changes causing gum tissue to be extra hospitable to bacteria. Increased snacking and cravings (can’t always help those!) combines with increased acidity in your mouth (thanks to morning sickness, dry mouth, and poor brushing habits while nauseous). Increased acidity can also lead to increased gum erosion stemming from a coating of stomach acid during morning sickness.
We’ve Seen It All
If you’re experiencing any of these, you’re not alone! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found one in four women of childbearing age have untreated cavities. Was your last trip to the dentist more than six months ago? It isn’t too late: you can take the first step toward gifting your baby lifelong of dental health simply by showing up for your next dental appointment.
But Is It Safe?
Contrary to what you may have heard, the use of x-rays, pain medication, and local anesthesia is safe throughout pregnancy. The ADA and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists agree that emergency treatments (extractions, root canals, and restorations) can be safely performed during pregnancy. This is great news because those same specialists say delaying treatment could make things worse.
To make sure you’re getting the best care, be sure to tell the dentist when your due date is, what medications you’re taking (over the counter and prescription), or if you’re having pain and other problems while chewing.
Prioritize Your Health To Start Strong
Four ways pregnant women can give their newborns a healthy start:
- Make and keep regular dental appointments
- Brush with fluoride toothpaste at least twice daily
- Drink fluoridated tap water every day
- Talk to a dentist or doctor about a way to prevent or manage dental problems
It might be useful to take care of that last one sooner than later. The American Pregnancy Association [https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/is-it-safe/ dental-work-and-pregnancy-1185/] advises expectant mothers to take care of dental work before the end of the second trimester, because once you reach the third it may be difficult to lie on your back for extended periods.
Join Our Family…While Expanding Yours!
Dr. Simper is a father of three, including a pair of twins. He watched his beautiful wife Jennifer as she grew their family and understands some of the hardships expectant mothers might face on the way to the dentist chair.
He’s backed by an amazing team — including nine moms — who want you to feel safe, heard, and taken care of. Southridge dental specializes in “comfort dentistry” and we know you’ll see the difference.
TIP: If you’ve just thrown up, Southridge Dental recommends rinsing your mouth with a teaspoon of baking soda in a cup water to neutralize the stomach acid on your teeth. Don’t skip this step. Brushing your teeth before doing this swish might weaken the enamel your teeth need to stay strong.