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Why Do I Need To Visit The Dentist When Planning My Pregnancy?

With the many prerequisites, your gynecologist recommends you prior to conception in a planned pregnancy, or shortly after conception, are a dental visit. It is important to understand the significance of good oral health and the role it plays in the good general health of the mother and the unborn child.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics encourage women to get dental care while pregnant. Women of otherwise good oral health may see adverse oral effects during this period of physiological and hormonal change leading to pregnancy gingivitis, gum lesions, tooth mobility, erosion, and decay.

Like your gynecologist, the dentists will classify your nine-month term into three trimesters, first second and third. Precautionary measures toward the health of the unborn child allow the dentist only to treat non-urgent procedures after the first three months of pregnancy (first trimester). To avoid a situation where an emergency dental procedure may be required, it is important to visit the dentist timely to assess your current oral health and discuss possible elective procedures available. 

Common elective procedures include a thorough examination of your tooth and gum health, setting up a regime during pregnancy for cleaning (3-6 month frequency), restoring existing cavities and early detection of any conditions that may exacerbate during pregnancy. 

Pre-pregnancy check-up:

If planning a pregnancy in the future, this is the ideal time to consider getting an oral check-up. A dentist can help with any existing needs that may aggravate during the pregnancy and discuss managing your oral health during the term to avoid any future adverse effects. He can do X-Rays, administer anesthesia and treatment plan without any restrictions. 

In-term Check-up:

Mothers who have conceived and are looking to get dental work done might be limited to options that are safe for pregnancy. Talking to the dentist about the treatment options available and medications safe to use for the mother and baby. Certain dental offices may carry extended facilitation for this purpose. If you require emergency dental care for any reason, consult such facilities to plan your dental treatment and medications over the course of your pregnancy in the safest way. 

Your dentist might request you to get a clearance form filled out by your gynecologist or obstetrician for your detailed history, medication and pregnancy status. Ask for the form prior to your visit to expedite the process of your dental visit.  

Common problems reported by pregnant women:

Tooth erosion: Maybe induced in some women by morning sickness induced acid reflux, which damages your teeth and increasing bad breath.  

Dry mouth and sensitivity: Hormone fluctuation in the body may induce a rise in the mother’s blood pressure and decrease of salivary flow. This will lead to dryness of the mouth and subsequent sensitivity of teeth. Dry mouth also increases the susceptibility of tooth decay because saliva is important for its wash-away to affect and buffering of pH. 

Pregnancy Gingivitis: Swelling of gums due can be induced by hormones during pregnancy. This may affect all gums or just a fraction of the gums where the folds allow for bacteria to accumulate. 

Mobility of teeth: A condition called periodontitis may occur due to poor gum health and resorption of the bone surrounding teeth. This may increase the mobility of teeth, affect chewing and functionality. If left untreated, it can lead to the loss of a tooth. 

Pregnancy tumor: In 1% of women, swelling of gums may lead to localized skin growth that is small, round, and usually bloody red in color. These are rich in blood vessels and mostly present in the gums between teeth. They may appear pedunculated or rounded and easily bleed due to a large number of blood vessels. Mostly red, bluish or purple in appearance. A simple surgical procedure can remove this if it affects functionality. Often, your dentist might let it resolve on its own after pregnancy. 

Are dental X-rays safe during pregnancy?

The conventional idea of X-Rays and their harmful effect on the unborn fetus was that the high radiation exposure of older technologies increased the chances of gene mutations and abnormalities in the development of the unborn child and harm to the mother. In today’s day and age however, the dosage used in dental radiographic procedures is several times smaller than that which is harmful to the mother and child. Moreso, evidence-based recommendations today suggest that using a lead apron to cover the neck and chest of the mother, provides sufficient protection against these low-dose X-Rays present at a dental office. 

Is dental anesthesia safe during pregnancy?

When considering the administration of anesthesia, your dentist considers the benefits vs risks on a case by case scenario. Certain anesthetics, termed category B are safer than others in category C and D. Procedures such as routine cleaning and polishing may not even require anesthetics. While in other situations, the dentist will decide based on a number of factors. 

For most procedures requiring extensive medication use such as anesthetics, pain medications, and antibiotics, your dentist office will get in touch with your gynecologist or obstetrician to obtain their clearance and detailed history. This helps the dentist make a conscious and safe recommendation and carry out the treatment planned to keep you and your baby’s health their top priority. 

Why do you feel lightheaded and dizzy during your dental visit while pregnant?

Vasomotor response in some pregnant women may cause a decrease in blood pressure, resulting in an abrupt fall in blood pressure. This is medically termed as postural hypotension. To avoid this, your dentist will position the chair slowly and gradually to a favorable inclined to allow them to work without causing a drop in blood pressure. 

Is lying in the dental chair in my final trimester going to affect my health?

The last trimester, with the increased pressure exerted by the enlarged uterus on other organs and veins of the abdomen, particularly the vena cava. This may cause an abrupt decline in blood pressure which the mother feels in the form of lightheadedness, sweating, nausea, and paleness of skin. This is termed hypotensive syndrome and your dentist is trained to manage this. To remedy this condition, the dentist may request you to lie on your left-side when lying down in the dental chair. Additionally, the dentist will allow you sufficient breaks in between the procedure to restore the blood flow periodically. 

The bottom line

With the vast number of changes your body may experience during pregnancy, oral health may need your additional attention. Active communication with your dentist and timely precautions will ensure this period is comfortable and avoid any unwanted complications, ensuring your health and that of your baby. 

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