Is it safe to visit the dentist during pregnancy?

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General Dental Care
BDSc (Melb)

Is it safe to visit the dentist during pregnancyPregnancy changes the chemistry of the female body, and this change can have implications for a pregnant woman’s dental health.

For example, the risk of gum conditions increases during pregnancy. One such problem is pregnancy gingivitis, which is related to the higher levels of the hormone progesterone that are produced in the pregnant patient. These in turn increase the blood supply to the gums, causing them to bleed more easily.

If you are suffering from pregnancy gingivitis, it is very important to visit a dental hygienist. The hygienist will remove all tartar from your teeth – tartar being a calcified deposit that forms on the teeth and can contribute to bleeding as well as decay. At the same time the hygienist will review your oral hygiene to ensure that you are doing your best to keep your teeth as free as possible from plaque (the sticky residue left on your teeth after eating certain foods), which traps bacteria and can therefore be a significant contributor to gingivitis and decay in all of us. As a pregnant woman, you may require more frequent hygiene visits throughout your pregnancy if your gums are particularly tender.

If you are suffering from pregnancy sickness, otherwise known as morning sickness, the increase in acidity levels in your mouth can also be a problem for your teeth. Stomach acidity can corrode the surface of your teeth, so it is not a good idea to brush your teeth straight after vomiting. Instead rinse your mouth out with water and perhaps apply some fluoridated toothpaste to your teeth with your fingertip to protect and strengthen them.

Certain dental procedures should be avoided during pregnancy.

Because of the vulnerability of the human foetus, it is not advisable to have X-rays taken during pregnancy, unless the risk outweighs the benefits. So always make sure you tell your dental practitioner if you are pregnant; then they will avoid any risk to your unborn child.

While it is safe to have a local anaesthetic for dental treatment while you are pregnant, some other types of anaesthetic should not be used on pregnant patients, so again make sure you alert your dental professional to your condition. Happy gas is one form of anaesthetic that is unsafe for pregnant patients. If you are particularly anxious about dental procedures, you should discuss with your practitioner other ways of relaxing during your treatment.

Other dental procedures that cannot be undertaken while a patient is pregnant are the removal or replacement of silver (amalgam) fillings, and teeth whitening.

Let your dentist know the stage of your pregnancy and how you are feeling (for example, are you comfortable lying on your back for a period of time?) so that he or she can tailor your appointments to suit the stage of your pregnancy.

Finally, enjoy your pregnancy, and all the best with the birth of your child!

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