Dentists are doctors too. And just like getting a physical from your primary care physician, visiting the dentist should be a priority too. This blog is dedicated to answering the questions that I get from families that attend my practice.
This is generally a simple answer in most situations.
Fortunately for you, this answer is short but does require some contextual qualification.
The health of your teeth and mouth is still a vital part of your overall well-being, and your well-being is paramount even more when you are pregnant and caring for a little one. So what we should do, as a public service, is address this question in various contexts.
We can say that in general, however, the answer to the question is yes, with caveats.
Scheduled Cleaning: Do I Cancel?
If you are pregnant and you have a regularly-scheduled cleaning and check-up appointment on your calendar, you do not need to cancel it. Tooth and gum health is vitally important during pregnancy, and the work of cleaning your teeth and getting a check-up is no different whether you are pregnant or not.
However, it is a good idea to contact your dentist’s office before the appointment to let them know that you are pregnant. Dentists, if needed, can coordinate with your doctor to make sure there aren’t any issues with any medications you’re taking, and the dentist can make adjustments with X-rays to ensure the radiation doesn’t affect the baby.
Should you need anesthesia, dentists have a couple different options of drugs to use that will be better for you and the baby, should you require some work that is beyond regular cleaning or fillings.
Gums Feel Swollen: Should I Worry?
While not all pregnant women experience this phenomenon while pregnant, it is not uncommon for the gums to swell and feel irritated. This usually stems from hormones that are present during pregnancy that reach elevated levels.
While this generally will pass on its own, if it does bother you or feels particularly uncomfortable or painful, contact your dentist and he or she may take a look to make sure it’s not a manifestation of something more permanent. Again, make sure your dentist knows that you are pregnant so he or she can take the necessary precautions to ensure health of both you and the baby.
Tooth Pain: It’s an Emergency!
When it comes to dentistry and the health of your mouth, the default is always to take good care of your teeth and mouth, even if you are pregnant. And this is especially true in an emergency situation, where you need a root canal, a tooth extraction or some other procedure that will help alleviate the pain and discomfort so you can go on with your life.
Communication is always the key, and if you are in an emergency situation while pregnant, you should make sure your dentist knows you are expecting and inform him or her of the trouble you are having. He or she may be able to help you determine, through consultation with your doctor, about the best course of action – is it necessary to take care of this issue now, or can it be postponed?
Part of that decision is based on which trimester you are in. The later in the pregnancy you are, the riskier the work will be for the health of your baby and the harmony of birth.
Teeth Whitening: Look Pretty for the Birth?
Cosmetic dentistry, including teeth whitening, has become more and more popular over the years, especially as procedures get easier and easier. However, these kinds of elective procedures are actually the kinds that may have risks greater than the “need” for the procedure.
If you have plans for anything cosmetic or elective, make sure to contact your dentist about your pregnancy and talk frankly and openly about the procedure and understand the risks to you and/or your baby in terms of chemicals or drugs used, instruments, etc. As most cosmetic and elective procedures are not needs or emergency procedures, most of the time your dental professional will advise that it’s best to postpone that work until after the baby is born and both of you are home and healthy.
In a lot of ways, it’ s easy to think of dentistry as a secondary concern while you’re pregnant, but having proper gum and tooth health is nearly as important as regular visits to your doctor during various terms of pregnancy. You should think of your dentist as you would your midwife or OB/GYN – your dentist is a doctor too, and any problems with your mouth should be communicated with your mouth doctor just as much as you would your pregnancy doctor.
When in doubt, make the call. There’s never any harm in getting good professional advice.