We all fear for the fetus. Is it safe to go to the dentist during pregnancy?

An old myth, widely spread among women, is that going to the dentist during pregnancy is dangerous for the fetus. Is it true? 

The opposite is true. Good dental hygiene is part of a healthy lifestyle for everyone. The mouth is a primary gateway to the blood vessels and digestive system. As such, oral health can be a good indicator of your overall health. What if you are pregnant?

However, many pregnant women have questions about whether dental care during pregnancy is safe; understandably, mothers want to do everything right for their children, something I struggle with often in my field.

So I will explain to you everything you need to know about dental treatment for pregnant women.

Dental treatment for pregnant women

Pregnancy is one of the most critical periods in a woman’s life, and the mother at this stage is often very cautious and afraid for her fetus – which is expected – from complications that may lead to miscarriage or deformities that may affect her fetus.

At the same time, during pregnancy, hormonal changes occur in the mother, which may cause oral and dental problems, the most important of which is gingivitis, known as pregnancy gingivitis.

Therefore, the fear of visiting a doctor is exaggerated. You have to treat cases because staying untreated carries more damage than the potential risks of the drugs used during treatment, such as gingival tumors and abscesses that contain a large germ opening.

The best time for elective dental treatment is the second trimester of pregnancy, i.e., from week 14 to week 20.

The American Dental Association (ADA) also stresses that visits to the dentist during pregnancy are safe, including most routine examinations, X-rays, and topical anesthetics used by the doctor.

Modern digital radiography devices have made radiation concerns almost non-existent. Therefore x-rays to diagnose dental diseases during pregnancy do not pose a significant risk to the developing fetus, especially when considering the infections and pain if you do not have it.

However, it would be best if you told your dentist that you are pregnant before having the x-ray so that the staff can provide you with clothing or a particular device to protect your pelvis and abdomen from exposure.

The local anesthetic lidocaine used in dentist clinics is also safe for pregnant women and fetuses. At the same time, there are many safe analgesics and dental medications that can be used during pregnancy, such as: (acetaminophen and paracetamol for pain relief, dental antiseptics, or gum paste).

As for tooth extraction, nerve treatment, and placing optical fillings, they are entirely safe, but it is advised not to put fillings that contain mercury and not to replace them for fear of the spread of mercury, which leads to poisoning.

Pregnancy gingivitis and its symptoms

As I mentioned earlier, one of the most common oral symptoms in pregnant women is pregnancy gingivitis, as the incidence of it reaches about 40% of pregnant women. The leading cause of infection is the hormonal changes that the pregnant woman’s body is going through; some changes facilitate the growth of bacteria. It also increases the deposition of plaque on the gums, which directly causes the appearance of gingivitis. 

The signs and symptoms are:

  • Gum color changing to red or dark purple
  • Visible swelling on the gums
  • Gums become tender and painful to the touch
  • Gum bleeding when using a toothbrush
  • Bad smell coming from the mouth 
  • Pus and pus may appear on the gums in cases of acute and chronic inflammation
  • Gingivitis may progress to periodontitis and tooth-root erosion, and teeth may lose stability.

Note: You should know that gingivitis may constitute a group of complications if not treated. It may increase the possibility of premature birth and tooth decay due to infection of the periodontal and disease transmitted to your fetus through the placenta, causing a small fetus size and severe pain.

This means that you should go directly to the dentist to treat your gingivitis to protect you and your fetus. 

Methods of preventing gingivitis in pregnant women

There are prevention methods that you should follow to avoid gingivitis and toothache, including:

1. Brushing your teeth two to three times a day

2. Use fluoride toothpaste and change the toothbrush from time to time. 

3. Use the floss to get rid of food residues between the teeth with caution to prevent irritation or wounding of the gums.

4. In cases of vomiting that accompanies a woman during pregnancy, the mouth should be washed with water well.

5. Good nutrition and calcium intake in meals. 

6. Stay away from sugary foods and soft drinks.

Tooth pain for pregnant women and its temporary treatment until you go to the doctor

Saline solution: Use warm water and salt to get rid of harmful oral bacteria.

Natural oils: such as olive oil and peppermint oil, are applied to the gums to relieve pain.

Mouthwash: Avoid mouthwashes that contain alcohol and replace them with mouthwashes that contain natural herbs such as sage and lemongrass oil.

Note: Do not use any natural product sold by perfumers before consulting your doctor, who may prescribe antibiotics for you according to your condition, such as: (amoxicillin, clindamycin, and penicillin).

In severe cases, the doctor may have to surgically treat gingivitis, especially in severe hypertrophies that do not respond to medication.

Orthodontics for pregnant women 

As for orthodontics during pregnancy, you should do it after birth. As a general rule, no health reason prevents a pregnant woman from using orthodontic appliances, whether fixed or mobile.

But some things must be taken into account when treating the teeth of a pregnant woman through braces:

1. Gingivitis and periodontitis accompany the pregnant woman during pregnancy.

2. Hormonal changes during pregnancy affect the movement of teeth.

3. The eating habits of a pregnant woman can lead to disruption of orthodontic treatment.

4. Taking into account the effect of different medications used during pregnancy on the movement of teeth.

In these cases, it is wise to postpone the installation of braces until after birth, especially since orthodontic brackets can be a factor in accumulating microbial plaques in you. If you have mild gingivitis, the problem will worsen.

If oral health is appropriate in all respects, and after consulting a gynecologist to ensure no medications may affect the treatment, there is no conflict between orthodontics and pregnancy.

In conclusion, the health of your fetus is like your health, so you should take care of your oral health and not neglect it to ensure a healthy pregnancy without any other effects.

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