During pregnancy, you would be very keen on taking care of your health for the sake of your baby’s well-being. Your overall health is extremely important during pregnancy and it includes every structure of your body, including oral structure. Some of you might fear of visiting the dentist during gestation, but it is crucial to have a check on your oral health for your baby’s growth. Poor oral hygiene is found to be associated with premature delivery and low birth weight, intrauterine growth restriction, gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.
When to visit your dentist during pregnancy?
” At the earliest ” is the key. You would undergo many hormonal changes during pregnancy, and it would certainly cause a major impact on your gums. Some of you might cross the pregnancy phase without any oral discomfort. But the fact is, these hormonal changes can easily trigger the oral infection and worsen the gum health. Once you become symptomatic, it might end up in bigger complication. It’s better to be proactive than suffering at the end moment.
Do not hide your pregnancy just for the sake of treatment. Be transparent while visiting your dentist. It is so common to get gum disease or tooth pain during gestation. Firstly, don’t scare for seeing the dentist as you are posing the risk of periodontal disease ( it is an advanced stage of gum disease ) during pregnancy. Secondly, if you are in the first trimester, practically it is not possible to identify that you are pregnant in the first shot.
You might require to undergo an x-ray, which certainly requires utmost care and protection before proceeding when you are pregnant. Even if you are planning for pregnancy, it is better to inform your dentist before any treatment procedure to start. List of medicines that you are taking, including multivitamins that have been prescribed by your gynaecologist and other special instructions ( if any ), is better to inform in prior to your dentist. This would help your dentist to plan treatment without any complications.
What is the best period to undergo dental treatment during pregnancy?
In most instance, second trimester ( 4th to 6th month ) would be an ideal period to get the treatment done during pregnancy. In this period, the fetus would have crossed the developmental phase and probably away from risk factors. Ideally, it is a comfortable period for the fetus and the mother. Dental works such as cavity filling, crown placement, are safely done during the second trimester and it should be done to reduce the chance of infection.
However, preventive dental treatment like teeth cleaning, and annual check-ups can be done during the first trimester itself. It is, in fact, essential to avoid gum infection. In case, if you have tooth pain during your first trimester, it should not be with-held till the second trimester, and treatment has to be done immediately. This is for the sake of your developing fetus. Your dentist would take necessary precaution before proceeding with the treatment.
Dental treatment during the third trimester is generally not recommended as you might find it difficult to lie down on the dental chair. Moreover, it would compress the fetus, and you might find difficulty in breathing. Nevertheless, emergency dental works like root canal treatment and extraction can still be done, if you have severe pain or abscess formation. Other elective procedures like aesthetic correction, bleaching are better to postpone after delivery.
Why dental treatment is important during pregnancy?
Pregnancy is more of hormonal changes, and it has a huge impact on the teeth and gum structure. When it is super-imposed by plaque and calculus deposition, it acts as a synergic effect for the spread of oral infection and gum destruction. Some common dental issues include,
Increased risk of tooth decay:
During the initial phase of pregnancy, you are prone to morning sickness. This increased gastric reflex increases the acidic secretion of the stomach, and in turn, decreases the PH of the oral cavity. In acidic PH, bacteria have the tendency to grow rapidly and accelerate tooth destruction. When you already have mild to moderate tooth decay, morning sickness would amplify further caries activity.
Additionally, if you prefer to consume more sugary items and sticky foods during this time, increased risk of tooth decay is prominent. It might end up in an emergency situation where you might require emergency root canal treatment or extraction.
Pregnancy gingivitis :
During pregnancy, hormonal changes will increase the blood flow to the gum tissue and cause your gums to be more sensitive, irritable and swollen. This sensitivity further increases in the presence of plaque and calculus. Pregnancy gingivitis can easily bleed, even while brushing. Sometimes, it can bleed as such without any triggering factor like a toothbrush. Oral prophylaxis followed by proper oral care is needed to keep pregnancy gingivitis under control.
Pregnancy tumour :
Pregnancy tumour is not cancer, but just a lump of gingival growth during pregnancy. It is an inflammatory reaction of the gums due to plaque deposits and bacterial growth. Usually, it happens at the time of the second trimester, however, it may happen at any time of pregnancy. The red lump glistens, easily bleeds, and can make eating and speaking difficult. Pregnancy tumour often disappears after the baby’s birth. However, if it hinders your daily activity like eating and speaking, your dentist may choose to remove it. It is a simple excision of tissue growth under local anaesthesia. Although the tumour is removed during pregnancy, it is prone to reoccur under the presence of plaque and calculus. If the tumour is not removed, then action should be taken to eradicate the triggering factor like bacterial growth and plaque deposit.
How safe is taking dental x-ray during pregnancy?
Many of you particularly avoid dental visit because of x-ray exposure. But, dental x-rays are safer to take during pregnancy providing with proper precaution. Dental x-rays have very minimal radiation when compared to other x-rays thus make it safer to use. Your dentist would cover your abdomen with the lead apron in order to protect the fetus from radiation exposure. Additionally, your thyroid gland is also protected with the help of lead collar. This makes a safer environment for you and your baby while taking x-rays. However, your dentist would not recommend an x-ray while you are pregnant, until and unless it is really required.
Thus, making a dental visit is necessary during pregnancy, for you and your baby’s well-being.