If you’re pregnant, you may wonder if it’s safe to undergo dental treatment. You might even consider postponing your regular cleaning or checkup until after you’ve had your baby. Don’t pick up the phone just yet.
It’s actually a great time to see your dentist, because a woman’s teeth are more vulnerable during pregnancy. Gingivitis is very common, affecting at least 40 percent of pregnant women, according to recent research.
It’s is a mild form of gum disease that, if detected early, is treatable and even reversible through a professional dental cleaning. If you ignore gingivitis, it can lead to serious problems, including tooth loss.
At Taylor Cosmetic Dental, we see your dental visit as an important part of prenatal care. You may want to put off elective treatments like teeth-whitening until after you’ve had your baby. We invite you, however, to come in for checkups and cleanings and urge you to call us if you experience problems with your teeth and gums.
Hormonal Changes In Pregnancy Cause Gingivitis
Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gingiva, the part of your gum that touches your teeth.
It’s an uncomfortable condition marked by red, swollen, irritated gums that are tender to the touch and bleed easily when brushing or flossing. Other signs of gingivitis include:
- Loose teeth
- Persistent bad breath or unpleasant taste
- Receding gums
Gingivitis stems from a buildup of plaque, that sticky thin biofilm that forms on our teeth and needs to be brushed away each day. It’s full of bacteria and if it’s not properly removed, it can begin attacking healthy gum tissue.
Because of greater levels of progesterone, pregnant women have an elevated response to plaque. They have more plaque build up than usual and, at the same time, experience more blood-flow to their gums. tI’s a recipe for inflammation.
Plaque contains a lot of bacteria. If it isn’t removed from your teeth, that bacteria attacks your gums, causing them to recede and separate from your teeth. Next, deep pockets form between your guns. The bacteria that are trapped there continue to attack your gums as well as the bone supporting your teeth.
At this point, gingivitis has progressed into periodontitis, a more serious form of gum disease.
It can cause tooth loss and, according to some studies, even lead to negative birth outcomes like low birth weight or preterm births.
Gingivitis Can Be Treated With a Professional Dental Cleaning
Pregnant women should arrange a checkup to determine whether they have plaque buildup or gingivitis. If these issues are caught early, they can be treated and even reversed. It just takes a professional dental cleaning, including scaling and root-planing. These procedures involve a dentist using an instrument to perform a deep cleaning below the gumline.
In order to protect your teeth while at home, you should brush your teeth twice per day. If you are experiencing gingivitis, you can try a daily warm saltwater rinse, using a ratio of 1 teaspoon of salt to one cup water. The good news is that after your baby is born, your gums usually return to their normal condition.
You Should Treat A Dental Infection While Pregnant
It’s also possible to develop a dental infection while pregnant, generally signaled by a toothache. Your doctor and dentist may agree you should undergo emergency dental treatment like a root canal or tooth-pulling, especially if a tooth is abscessed.
This is because any risk the dental treatment and the accompanying antibiotic pose are insignificant compared to the risk that the dental infection spreads to the patient’s bloodstream. This can make both mother and child very sick.
Consider Timing When Planning Dental Work
In general, the second trimester is the best time for a pregnant woman to undergo dental work. By that time, the baby’s organs are fully formed and she’s hopefully experiencing far less nausea. Routine dental work should still be safe in the third trimester but, by that time, you’re likely to find spending any period of time in a dental chair uncomfortable.
It’s crucial to be vigilant about your dental health when you’re pregnant, because various physiological changes can adversely impact your teeth. Contact us if you have any questions about appropriate dental treatment while you’re expecting.