Can/Should You Go To The Dentist While Pregnant?

Pregnant woman making a heart shape with her hands on belly

Yes, absolutely because dental visits will help keep you and your baby safe.

Although your life becomes busy with trips to your obstetrician, baby showers, and decorating the nursery, your regular cleanings and dental exams become even more critical once you are pregnant because your oral health impact your overall health and the health of your baby.

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Safety Concerns

If you are reading this, you probably already realize the importance of oral care, but is it safe to go to the dentist while pregnant during coronavirus

A study released by the ADA reported that less than 1% of dentists were positive for COVID-19. Although this report surprised many because experts assumed positivity rates would be higher in dental offices, this good news was expected by those in the profession.

Dentists have always practiced impeccable infection controls, even before the pandemic. For years our office staff have worn gloves, masks, and personal protective equipment (PPE), used disposables, sterilized all instruments using multi-parameter indicators, disinfected countertops/surfaces, and employed patient safety glasses.

Although all facilities upped their sanitation practices to comply with COVID mandates, in general even before the pandemic, dental offices practiced optimal infection and safety controls and the low transmission rates reflect this.

Learn more about how our practice handles infection control

What Additional Measures Does the Practice Take to Ensure Safety?

Dentist wearing PPE
 

Now with the pandemic, dental visits to our office are a little different. Rest assured that the same level of care, skill, compassion, and level of expertise are still present

Dr. Chan and his staff strive to keep patients safe. That is why our office has extra precautions in place to help stop the spread

When you arrive at our office, we ask you to wait in your car to limit the number of patients inside at a time. We request you wear a mask until seated in the dental chair.

All patients must pass a temperature check and respond to a COVID-19 screening before their appointment. Also, we provide hand sanitizer and ask you to wash your hands frequently.

Our staff will be wearing additional personal protection equipment, such as face shields, hair covers. For certain procedures, high volume air filtration and suction HEPA and Ulta units will be utilized to filter out airborne contaminants. You may notice one in the reception room.

Pandemic or not, Dr. Chan wants to make sure you always have a beautiful, healthy smile. Whether you have a specific concern or just want to schedule dental prophylaxis (cleaning), our entire staff will go above and beyond to keep you safe and comfortable at all times.

What Dental Work Should Be Considered During Pregnancy?

During pregnancy dental services can be categorized into three main treatment types:

  1. Routine care: Examples include regular check ups and prophylaxis. If you’re getting an x-ray, let your dentist and staff know you are pregnant. They will use a lead apron to protect your developing fetus and your thyroid.
  2. Fillings and extractions: There is no risk to these procedures. Local anesthetics are safe in pregnancy.
  3. Considerable dental work: It is probably best to do it in the second or third trimester when you aren’t experiencing as much nausea, vomiting or gag reflex.

Dr. Chan will explain and help you to differentiate which cateogory your needs fall into and what will be best for you.

What Anesthetics Are Safe During Pregnancy?

Most local anesthetics are safe for both you and your baby. If there are compromising medical co-factors, ie. high blood pressure, history of allergic reactions, hypertension, anxiety, etc., then Dr. Chan will consider those conditions prior to your appointment and choose the appropriate anesthetic to administer

Mepivicaine HCl 3% with or without vasoconstrictor, is often used for pregnant patients because it is short-acting.

Whenever a pregnant patient presents with the need for dental treatment including providing local anesthesia, Dr. Chan always assesses the individual’s current physiological and psychological status prior to proceeding.

Are X-rays Safe During Pregnancy?

Yes, x-rays are safe during pregnancy, especially since we utilize digital low dose equipment and employ the use of a lead apron to screen out any scatter radiation; however, when we are aware that a patient is expecting, we usually defer taking a full mouth set of radiographs until after delivery.

Instead, we take only one or two single radiographs to further minimize any exposure to the developing fetus.

As has been Dr. Chan’s philosophy throughout his dental career, he is conservative and conscientious in practice.

How Does Dental Health Impact Pregnancy

Preventative check-ups, including exams and prophylaxis are essential during pregnancy, especially if you are struggling to keep up with your oral hygiene regimen at home due to morning sickness and a more sensitive gag reflex.

Infections in the mother, such as tooth decay and gum disease, can pose a risk to your baby’s health. Current research shows an undeniably strong correlation between the existence of gum disease and inducing early labor, premature births, and underweight babies.

What Oral Health Problems Can Develop During Pregnancy?


 

Several oral health issues may develop or worsen throughout your pregnancy. Continuing with and/or increasing your visits and/or dental prophylaxis can alleviate many of these problems and allow you and your dentist and dental hygienist to work together to treat any concerns early.

Gingivitis

During pregnancy hormone levels increase and can lead to an escalation in plaque levels, resulting in your gums becoming inflamed, tender, and bleeding easily. This condition is known as pregnancy gingivitis.

Untreated, this can progress to more severe forms of periodontal disease and can potentially result in permanently losing both supportive bone and gum tissue around teeth, in tooth decay, and eventual tooth loss.

Fortunately, regular brushing, flossing, dental check-ups, and possibly more frequent visits during pregnancy can help you manage this condition.

Stained teeth

During pregnancy, several products are known to cause staining on the new mother’s teeth or the later on the baby’s newly erupted teeth. They include iron supplements, chlorhexidine mouthwash, and tetracycline antibiotics.

  • Although Iron supplements help to support your growing baby, these supplements can cause dark spots on your teeth. Instead, drinking the liquid form through a straw or mixing it with water or fruit juice, or taking it in pill form will help keep the supplement staining your teeth.
  • Chlorhexidine mouthwash is typically prescribed to treat gum disease but can cause brown stains. Avoid consuming other dark foods and beverages while using this mouthwash
  • Tetracycline, a commonly used antibiotic, is absorbed through the placenta to the developing fetus. It can affect developing baby’s teeth and cause permanent dark grey or brown staining when the baby’s teeth erupt later

Dysgeusia

Dysgeusia is a state of impaired taste. Occasionally pregnant women express having a metallic taste in their mouths

The condition is temporary and is linked to changing hormones and water retention which affect your taste buds.

You may find it helpful to chew sugarless gum or suck on sugarless sweets to help with any metallic aftertaste you are experiencing. If you like spicy foods, the spiciness often offsets the metallic taste.

Ptyalism

Ptyalism is excessive production of saliva or hypersalivation. This condition is common in women experiencing severe morning sickness.

While the links between pregnancy and ptyalism are still unclear, there are several things you can do to ease any discomfort, including regularly sipping on water, eating a balanced diet, and reducing meal size.

Other ways to alleviate excess saliva include, increasing meal frequency, chewing sugar-free gum, and continuing to follow a dental health regimen.

Diabetes

Research has shown that people with diabetes are more susceptible to gum disease. This is due to higher blood sugar levels in those with diabetes, which feed the plaque-building bacteria.

In other studies those with diabetes have been shown to have a genetic predisposition to gum disease.

Since pregnancy can lead to an increased risk of gingivitis, careful monitoring of your oral health is particularly crucial if you have diabetes and are, or considering becoming, pregnant.

Food cravings

The increasing frequency of eating and drinking due to food cravings may lead to cavities and gum disease unless you continue to brush twice daily and floss every day.

When Is the Best Time To Have A Dental Visit While Pregnant?

The second trisemester is the most optimal time to schedule your dental appointment(s)

Conclusion

Pregnancy is a time for many healthcare visits. While it is tempting to skip the dentist, that is one appointment you should not put off. It is safe and beneficial for you to keep your dental visits while pregnant.