Dental Treatment Considerations for Pregnant Women: Part I

In between trips to your ob-gyne, shopping for baby stuff, and setting your little angel’s bedroom, never forget to include your dental visits in your pregnancy checklist.

Your oral health is as important as your general health during this crucial period, and your dentist can help you with any dental-related symptoms you might be experiencing.

According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Academy of Pediatrics, and American Dental Association, “all pregnant women should do regular dental visits because “oral health is directly related to good overall health.”

As for your dentist, here are the treatment considerations that they have to implement when handling pregnant patients.

Elective Dental Treatment

Elective dental treatment pertains to procedures that are not urgently needed.

They are recommended by dentists because they are beneficial for the patient, but doesn’t need to be done right away.

These include simple restorative procedures, professional cleaning (for maintenance), and most cosmetic dental procedures.

In pregnant women, these procedures may be postponed until after you have given birth, particularly if it involves the anesthetics and x-rays.

Emergency Dental Treatment

Emergency treatment is the opposite of elective, as it requires the procedure to be performed in the soonest time possible.

This includes symptomatic cases of extensive tooth decay which necessitates immediate restoration or extraction.

Tooth decay, in particular, must be considered an emergency because the infection can spread throughout the body and affect your unborn baby.

Severe or advanced cases of gum disease must also be addressed whenever possible because it also increases the risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes, the most common of which is premature birth and low birth weight.

Timing of Dental Treatment

As much as possible, all dental treatment must be postponed until after giving birth and dental visits must be limited to check-ups and oral hygiene instructions.

However, since this is not possible and treatment is needed in most instances, the best time to do elective dental procedures is during the second trimester, because it is during the first and third trimesters when the unborn baby is most sensitive to chemicals and radiation.

Only emergency dental procedures must be considered during the first and third trimesters.

If x-rays are necessary for the emergency treatment, the number of shots taken is the fewest possible.

Scaling and polishing for advanced cases of gum disease may be repeated up to the first half of the third trimester only.

Dental X-rays

Although dental x-rays are deemed safe by the American Dental Association due to their low dose, they are used only when absolutely necessary.

As much as possible, you dentist will delay taking x-rays until after your first trimester. And to protect you and your baby from the radiation, he or she will ask you to wear a lead apron with thyroid collar.

If you have concerns, you can always talk to your dentist to evaluate your case and see if x-rays can be rescheduled at a later period.

There you go. Done – with the first part.

There’s a lot of things your dentist consider when handling pregnant patients and one blog post isn’t enough to discuss all of them.

That’ why this post will come with a second part where more treatment considerations will be discussed.

Oral Healthcare For Pregnant Women

Women who are expecting the arrival of their newest family member can expect a whole lot of other things, especially with regards to their oral health.

Find more information about the most common oral health problems experienced by pregnant women in this previous blog post.

Meanwhile in this article, we will tackle the most important aspects of oral health care for them.

Screening and Prevention

If your last dental visit is more than six months ago, then it’s about time to pay your dentist a visit.

All pregnant women are advised to go to their dentist for the assessment of important things like their oral hygiene practices, existing oral health problems (i.e. tooth decay, gum problems, etc.), frequency of dental visits, and access to fluoridated water.

They should also undergo a comprehensive oral examination to assess the health of her teeth, gums, and other oral structures.

This will be followed by instructions on how to properly perform brushing and flossing, control diet, and do regular dental visits.

Your dentist and ob-gynecologist will communicate and develop an ongoing collaborative relationship until you after you have given birth.

Your ob-gynecologist will approve or recommend any safety measures that your dentist should execute upon providing your dental treatment.

Dental Procedures

Your dentist will set and do all the dental procedures you need during the second trimester of pregnancy because it is when the development of your unborn baby’s internal organs is complete.

If you need any emergency dental treatment, it may be performed at any trimester, although extra care will be provided during the third trimester due to possibility of additional problems and complications.

To prevent this, your dentist will consider giving you short appointments and observe certain precautionary measures.

Supplements

Supplementation with calcium and magnesium is important for expectant mothers. These minerals are crucial for the maintenance of healthy bones and teeth.

Magnesium has the added benefit of promoting restful sleep and relieving headaches, cramps, and even bruxism or teeth grinding.

Dietary Modifications

Pregnant women are advised to take a variety of healthy foods which include a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grain products, and dairy products. Meat, poultry, fish, and eggs, are also fine.

Foods that must be avoided to maintain oral health (and also general health) are sweets, high-sugar fruit juices, and sodas.

Drink plenty or water and/or milk in place of sugar-rich drinks. Fluoridated water is recommended to help strengthen your teeth and that of your baby’s.

You may obtain it from community fluoridated water source, or you can buy bottled fluoridated water.

Care must be taken, however, to avoid water with too much fluoride because it can result in mottling of the teeth.

Pregnant women only need 3.0mg of fluoride per day.

Poor oral health care and delaying the treatment that you might need could result in significant risk to you and your baby.

To prevent this, it is extremely important to take care of your oral health during and even after pregnancy.