It is not unusual for women to have concerns about dental work when they are pregnant. Being overly cautious is just part of pregnancy. The good news is, routine dental exams are not only safe during pregnancy, they are recommended. When a woman is pregnant, her body is flooded with hormones. Often, these hormones cause the gums to swell and teeth to become sensitive. Having a routine dental checkup will help these women prevent infection and discomfort from these conditions.
Concerns About Non-Routine Dental Work
Unless it is an emergency, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that women during their first trimester try to avoid elective dental treatments such as bleaching. While the risk is very minimal, these procedures can be held off until the second trimester.
Most doctors also recommend that women avoid extensive dental work in their third trimester unless it is absolutely necessary. The reason for this delay is because of the comfort level for the pregnant woman. Long periods in a dental chair can become quite uncomfortable during this time.
What About X-Rays?
It is standard routine to take dental x-rays as part of the examination. However, if you are pregnant and are not suffering with any type of tooth discomfort, it is possible to forego the x-rays until after the birth of the baby.
In some dental emergencies, or if there is a possible cavity that needs to be examined, the dentist will need to perform an x-ray. These x–rays have a very low radiation level and the ADA has not found any evidence of them causing harm to a developing baby. However, as an extra precaution, your dentist will most likely provide you with an x–ray blanket for additional protection.
Dental Care During Pregnancy
Women do not have to avoid any specific toothpaste or mouthwash during pregnancy. However, it is always recommended, even when you are not pregnant, to try to avoid swallowing these products. It is also important to remember that you only need a pea sized amount of toothpaste for a proper cleaning.
Women who experience sensitive teeth during pregnancy can change to a toothpaste made for sensitive teeth during this time. If the sensitivity becomes too much to handle, a trip to the dentist can help with this issue. Women should also increase their calcium intake during this period to help keep their teeth and bones strong.
You should also switch to a soft bristle toothbrush while you are pregnant if you are not already using one. Gums can swell and become sensitive during pregnancy. A softer bristle will ease the discomfort you may feel while brushing your teeth.
Staying Comfortable During Your Procedure
All pregnant women know that the further along they are in the pregnancy, the harder it becomes to find a comfortable position when they have to sit for long periods of time. It is recommended that you bring a small pillow with you for your lower back or to place under your knees to help you remain comfortable during your exam.