January 30, 2011
Q. Dr. Share, I’m aware of the changes that my body is going through while being pregnant. Should I have any particular dental concerns at this time?
A. During pregnancy there is a special need for good oral hygiene, because pregnancy may exaggerate some dental disorders. The old adage “a tooth is lost for every child” is untrue. However, during pregnancy inflammation of the gums may be more pronounced due to a rise in your body’s hormonal levels. This is due to the way that your gums react to the irritants in the plaque on your teeth, not the hormones themselves. By maintaining a sound program of brushing and flossing thoroughly twice daily, using an ADA-accepted toothpaste and seeing our hygienist regularly, your tissues will remain their healthiest.
Q. Why is prenatal dental care so important?
A. Firstly, tooth development in the embryo begins as early as the fifth or sixth week of intrauterine life, often even before your pregnancy has been confirmed! And, your eating habits may change, causing changes in your oral health. Your own personal nutrition has a direct bearing on the development of your child’s teeth. So, it is important that you receive sufficient amounts of nutrients especially vitamins A, C, and D, protein, calcium and phosphorus. It is also a myth that calcium is lost from the mother’s teeth during pregnancy. The calcium your baby needs is provided by your diet, not by your own teeth.
Q. Can I have my teeth worked on while I’m pregnant?
A. The best time for any treatment, especially if you are currently in the midst of dental care, should be discussed with us and your obstetrician. Normally, it’s best to schedule necessary visits during the second trimester (the fourth through the sixth months) of your pregnancy. Morning sickness commonly occurs in the first trimester. During the last trimester it may be less comfortable for you to sit in one position for any length of time. Dental cleanings and check-up exams are not only safe during pregnancy but are important to continue.
Q. Can I take medications and have anesthetics during pregnancy?
A. Many medications are perfectly safe and others are a risk to your unborn baby. Taking any medication during pregnancy should be done only on the advice of your physician. Most obstetricians approve the use of local anesthetic (without vasoconstrictors) during pregnancy.
Q. Are X-rays safe?
A. Although the amount of radiation from a dental X-ray is minute, the beam is limited to a small region of the face, and we cover our patients with a protective lead apron (pregnant or not), we generally refrain from taking X-rays during pregnancy. If a dental emergency arises mandating an X-ray for diagnosis and treatment, we will thoroughly discuss this with you and your physician.
Q. I’ve been hearing that there might be a link between unhealthy gums, and preterm births and low birth weight babies?
A. Studies have shown a relationship between periodontal disease and preterm low birth weight babies. In fact pregnant women with periodontal disease may be seven times more likely to have a baby that’s born too early and too small. The likely culprit is a labor-inducing chemical found in oral bacteria called prostaglandin. Very high levels of prostaglandin are found in women with severe cases of periodontal diseases. If the data is correct, this would make periodontal disease responsible for more cases of preterm, low birth weight deliveries than either smoking or alcohol use.
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