Pregnancy and Dental Care at Ingenious Dentistry, Houston TX
Maintaining excellent dental hygiene and attending regularly-scheduled dental care appointments with your dentist is always essential. Still, it is even more important to pay close attention to your oral health when you are pregnant. Some patients worry that dental appointments cannot be scheduled as usual during pregnancy because procedures, anesthesia, or x-rays are unsafe. Before you decide to skip your regularly scheduled dental care while pregnant, discuss with your dentist, the precautions dental practices take to ensure your health and safety.
Dental Conditions of Concern During Pregnancy
Even dental patients who practice excellent oral hygiene can experience new problems during pregnancy, so it is so important to keep up regular dental visits. Although some of the issues can arise, they can be more likely to develop while pregnant.
- Those who experience morning sickness expose the tooth enamel to excess stomach acid, which wears the enamel down faster.
- Worn enamel from vomiting can also lead to more cavities. To combat nausea, pregnant individuals also tend to snack more often, which leaves more food debris in the mouth.
- Hormonal changes during pregnancy can lead to growths on the body, including in the mouth. A dentist should examine these granulomas.
- Changes in hormones can also alter the body’s response to mouth bacteria, leading to the gums’ inflammation.
Dentists stress the importance of home dental hygiene care, but pregnant patients should still be monitored by a dentist during an in-office visit to ensure the teeth and gums remain healthy and strong. Dental emergencies should always be addressed, regardless of pregnancy status, since delaying treatment can lead to more challenging problems.
Questions Dentists Ask Before Your Visit
You should always let your dentist know you are pregnant when scheduling your visit. If you become pregnant after the appointment has been scheduled, make sure to let the dentist know before your appointment date arrives. Dentists are well-versed in the safety measures that need to be taken to ensure both the patient and the unborn child are protected and safe. When you disclose your pregnancy, your dentist may ask you a few initial questions to better help plan your care.
- When is the baby due, or how far along are you in the pregnancy?
- Is your pregnancy considered high risk? If so, has your doctor given you any restrictions that may affect dental care?
- If you need pain medication for a procedure, has your doctor discussed a preferred pain control method?
- Do you have any specific questions or concerns about getting dental care while pregnant?
Dental Treatment by Trimester
Dental treatment is considered safe throughout all stages of pregnancy. Treatments include both preventive care, such as dental exams, x-rays, and dental cleanings, and restorative care, such as dental fillings and crowns. Some anesthetics are also considered safe throughout pregnancy, such as the local anesthetic used during many dental procedures. The radiation involved in dental x-rays can also be administered safely through strategically placed shields over the abdomen and thyroid for protection. An experienced dentist knows how to proceed with caution, safety, and comfort for a pregnant patient.
Although dental care is safe at any time during pregnancy, there are benefits to scheduling work during the second trimester if the procedure is not an emergency.
First-Trimester Dental Care
- Although dentists perform cleanings and procedures that need local anesthetic during the first trimester, this is also when a fetus is most vulnerable. Many patients prefer to postpone non-emergency procedures until the second trimester. The first trimester is also the most likely time to experience morning sickness, so some patients prefer to avoid the dentist during this time since pregnancy vomiting cannot always be controlled.
Second-Trimester Dental Care
- Like medical procedures, the second trimester is considered the ideal time to visit the dentist during pregnancy. Most morning sickness has abated by this time, and many of the later pregnancy struggles have not yet developed. Patients who develop swollen, inflamed gums, or other pregnancy-related dental conditions typically develop them in the second trimester. Hence, it is essential to schedule an examination so your dentist can diagnose and treat any issues that arise.
Third-Trimester Dental Care
- Although procedures can still be performed during the third trimester, some patients choose to wait until after the birth since it can be difficult for a patient to lie on the back for extended periods in late pregnancy. Dentists have methods of accommodating this discomfort if a patient needs a dental procedure immediately or if the patient chooses to schedule a check-up appointment during this time.
Guidelines For Dental Care While Pregnant
During the dental visit, regardless of how far along in the patient’s pregnancy has progressed, the dentist and other dental professionals strive to ensure the patient remains comfortable and safe. Most practices have developed specific methods and recommendations to use at home and when in the dental chair. By following these guidelines, pregnant patients have a more comfortable experience.
- While at home, take extra care to maintain healthy dental practices, such as eating nourishing foods, brushing teeth twice a day, drinking water, and flossing regularly. This can help prevent some of the common dental complications of pregnancy.
- During your dental visit, bring a small pillow to place under the back to reduce the discomfort of lying on your back during a procedure.
- For relaxation, bring headphones and music or, if your practice has screens to watch, ask for a specific channel, you find comforting.
- For more lengthy procedures, make sure you keep your legs uncrossed in the dental chair. Crossing your legs reduces blood flow and circulation, which is already present for many pregnant individuals.
- Discuss any concerns with your dentist in advance, so you can attend your appointment feeling confident and comfortable.
Post-Dental Procedure Pain Management
After your procedure is complete, you may need a type of pain management. Some medications, such as nitrous oxide, are not considered safe during pregnancy. Although local anesthetic is typically sufficient for all pregnancy stages, some patients need pain management after the local anesthetic wears off. Your dentist will follow the guidelines set up by your obstetrician for which medications are recommended. Your dentist may recommend an over-the-counter treatment such as acetaminophen, but if stronger pain management is required, it will not be prescribed without consulting your doctor first.
Schedule Your Dental Care
Regardless of your stage of pregnancy, routine cleanings, or emergency procedures can be performed by an experienced and caring dentist who has your comfort and safety in mind. Specific guidelines are put in place to make sure pregnant patients are treated with concern and care. Dental care during pregnancy is crucial since you are more likely to experience inflammation due to hormones during this time. If you have any questions about dental care during pregnancy or need to schedule an appointment for a dental procedure in the Houston area, contact Ingenious Dentistry today. You can also reach us by phone at (713) 795-5905.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock/Oksana Shufrych