We’ve all heard them: “A root canal for each pregnancy!” “My gums were so swollen and bled when I was pregnant!” “The baby leached all the calcium from my teeth.” ” I’ll just wait until after I give birth to have my cleaning” “I can have fluoride when I’m pregnant, right?” “No x-rays!”
So what’s true?
#1 While minerals can be “leached” from other areas of your body, luckily, minerals aren’t taken from your teeth to provide for your baby. Cavities are most likely the culprit of a few things:
- More frequent snacking. To combat low blood sugar, nausea and morning sickness, this can be a necessity. However, every time you eat something, your mouth remains acidic for at least 20 minutes. Starchy foods like crackers and basic carbs are even worse your teeth–but are great for nauea.
- Morning sickness. If you’re vomiting, your teeth are bathing in stomach acid. This puts you at a much higher risk for cavities and root canals.
- Gagging. Another tie-in to morning sickness, many women find brushing difficult during the early months of pregnancy because of the heightened gag reflex. Use a very small amount of toothpaste. If you find you are still gagging, don’t use any at all and use a fluoride mouth rinse after.
#2 Gums are definitely more swollen and bleed easily when you’re pregnant. This is due to the pregnancy hormones coursing through your blood. They cause your gums to overreact to any amount of plaque on your teeth, so brushing, flossing, and anti-bacterial mouth rinse is very important during pregnancy.
#3 Don’t wait for your “cleaning.” Studies have shown that untreated gum disease can cause pre-term labor, preeclampsia (high blood pressure), blood clots, and can be dangerous for the fetus. If bacteria is left to run rampant in your mouth, it seeps into your blood stream and will reach the baby. Not a good way to start out!
#4 Fluoride is a great thing! Fluoride will help combat all the acid that comes along with pregnancy and is completely safe for the baby, however, don’t go drinking classes full of ACT or swallowing your toothpaste on a daily basis. Fluoride in the drinking water will even help in the development of the child’s baby teeth as long as it is within safe levels for regular consumption. If you live on well water, have it tested!
#5 X-rays? When a lead apron is used, all x-rays headed toward the baby are completely blocked–however, to be as conservative as possible, most routine x-rays are avoided until after pregnancy. X-rays are typically only taken when a tooth is infected or it becomes necessary to check a certain area for treatment. This is completely safe.
#6 If you need a filling…. Treatment is best to do during the second trimester. If a problem is found during the first or third, your dentist will probably want to wait a few months if it’s not a serious problem. Abscesses and infections are dangerous so they are treated as soon as possible, sometimes regardless of trimester.