Being pregnant is an exciting time but it can bring with it lots of anxiety. Anxiety over doing what it is right for you and your baby’s health. This should include dental health as well since there have been direct links between oral health and our overall health. Once you know you are pregnant it is never too early to start thinking about dental health. A baby’s teeth are already beginning to form by about the 5th-6th week following conception. By the time your baby is born all 20 of their baby (primary) teeth are almost completely formed. Below you will find some helpful tips to care for your dental health as well as the baby’s.
What To Expecting When Expecting Your Baby
Does the calcium for my child’s teeth come from my teeth?
No! This is a common myth but it is simply not true. The baby receives all calcium just like their other nutrients from the mother’s dietary intake.
What’s The Best Way To Maintain My Dental Health While Pregnant?
Maintaining dental health during pregnancy is similar to when not pregnant. To prevent tooth decay and periodontal disease it is important to brush your teeth at least 2x per day, floss at least once per day, and use an antibacterial rinse. Pregnancy gingivitis (earliest stage of periodontal disease) can be especially problemsome especially during the 7th-8th month of pregnancy as hormones are raging.
Almost one half of women experience pregnancy gingivitis, starting in the 2nd or 3rd month of pregnancy. It generally increases in severity all the way through to the eighth month. This pregnancy gingivitis can be very uncomfortable and cause inflammation, bleeding, redness or tenderness in the gums. If you already have poor dental hygiene and periodontal disease before pregnancy begins, expect an extreme progression in your periodontal condition as you end your first trimester and onward. In some women, gums swollen by pregnancy gingivitis can react strongly to irritants and form large growths. These are called pregnancy tumors. These are not cancerous and are usually painless in nature. This tumor may require removal by a dentist if it persists.
Research has suggested that pregnant women who have severe periodontal disease may be at a higher risk for preterm birth and low birth weight
Is Fluoride Safe?
For women who take fluoride supplements during pregnancy, it is expected that the added fluoride will help their children form strong teeth. However, this is a controversial subject and has not been fully studied. Additional fluoride will not necessarily aid in the process of enamel formation because fluoride works best when the teeth have fully formed and have erupted in the mouth.
Fluoride changes the chemical bonds in the enamel of the erupted teeth to make it more resistant to tooth decay. More research studies are needed to determine the advantages, if any, and the safe dosage levels for prenatal fluoride supplementation.
What About Medications Used In Dental Work During Pregnancy?
Lidocaine is the most commonly used drug for dental work. Lidocaine (category B – No evidence of risk in humans. This category has shown adverse effects in animal trials but in controlled human trials have been deemed to be safe with no increased risk of fetal abnormalities.) is able to cross the placenta after administration. Any local anesthesia can cross the placenta and cause fetal depression, therefore anesthesia dosage should be limited to the minimum required to keep patient comfortable. Luckily, most dentistry can be completed with very small amounts of local anesthetic, thus causing no danger to mom or baby.
A major study was completed spanning about 35 years and tracking 55,000 children. The study showed no evidence of any adverse reactions from local anesthetic use in pregnant women. Dental work often requires antibiotics to prevent or treat infections. Antibiotics such as penicillin, amoxicillin, and clindamycin, which are also labeled category B for safety in pregnancy, may be prescribed after your procedure. The penicillin and cephalosporin antibiotics most commonly used in dentistry (penicillin V, amoxicillin, and caphalexin) are generally considered safe for use during pregnancy. Clindamycin, metronidazole, and erythromycin are also believed to have minimal risk. Tetracyclines, including doxycycline, have shown to cause tooth discoloration and impaired bone metabolism. As a side note, taking antibiotics while using birth control medications will generally cause the birth control to be ineffective.
Will My Teeth Be Affected By Morning Sickness?
Vomiting due to morning sickness can lead to erosion of the enamel on the back of your front teeth. However, it is unlikely since the morning sickness lasts for such a short period of time. This is more likely to occur with frequent vomiting over a long period of time. If this is a concern of yours be sure to rinse with water and brush following bouts of morning sickness.
When Is The Best Time To Have Dental Work Performed?
Routine dental maintenance can be performed at any time but during third trimester it might be more difficult to sit in dental chair for long periods of time. The ideal time to see your dentist is during your second trimester, since your baby is more vulnerable during the first and third trimesters, when major development is occurring (first trimester) and the risk of premature delivery increases (late third trimester).
Can I Have My Teeth Whitened While Pregnant?
If you are pregnant, it is suggested to hole off from the use of bleaching agents, this also includes the use of whitening toothpastes. Teeth whitening may be resumed after pregnancy.
One of the best things you can do as an expectant mother is to maintain your own dental and general health. This should include a nutritious diet, regular visits to your physician as well as your dentist. A healthy mom will lead to an easier pregnancy as well as an easier time recovering after birth.
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