Pregnancy comes with a host of changes to a woman’s body. Long before the “baby bump” is visible, an expectant mother undergoes several alterations on the hormonal and physiologic level as her body readies itself to play host to a new life. Since most pregnancies last about nine months, a woman will have at least one regularly scheduled dental appointment during that time. Is it safe to have routine dental care? What about urgent dental procedures and dental x-rays? If you’re pregnant, is there anything extra you need to do to prepare for your dental appointment?
Both the American Dental Association (ADA) and the Canadian Dental Association (CDA) agree that it is generally safe for a pregnant woman to receive dental care. This includes routine care and exams as well as most procedures, such as crown placement. The single most important measure you can take to protect your health as well as the health of your unborn child during dental care is to inform your dentist if you’re pregnant or even might be pregnant.
Also, you need to speak with your obstetrician to make sure there are no concerns about dental care during your pregnancy. While the large majority of pregnancies will be completely compatible with dental care, your obstetrician may ask you to delay some dental treatments if you’re affected by high blood pressure or other issues.
Letting your dentist know about your pregnancy is important so that they can take the appropriate precautions. Dental cleaning may release bacteria into your bloodstream. Also, pregnant women might have somewhat compromised immune systems as their bodies adjust to the presence of the fetus. Therefore, some dentists choose not to perform dental cleanings during the first trimester while the fetus’ organs are still forming.
Additionally, your dentist may take other protective steps, such as checking your blood pressure or limiting dental x-rays. The x-rays used in dentistry are generally low-power and are certainly not directed towards your uterine area, but it’s best to play it safe. Again, the experts at the ADA and CDA agree that, with precautions like lead aprons, dental x-rays are safe for pregnant patients.
Finally, some medications are risky for pregnant women. If your dentist is informed about your pregnancy, they’ll be sure to avoid administering or prescribing these drugs.
The “Soft Teeth” Myth
You may have heard this bit of inaccurate folklore – that pregnant women’s teeth “soften” as the developing baby leaches calcium from their system to build bones. This is not true. However, you might experience sensitive teeth during your pregnancy, even if you’ve never encountered this problem in the past. Pregnant women are sometimes more susceptible to pain and sensitivity throughout their bodies.
If you find your teeth are becoming more sensitive, inform your dentist. They will be able to recommend special toothpastes or other measures to address the problem.