Time is ticking and your schedule is already full. In the next several months you are fitting in announcement parties, baby showers, crib shopping, breastfeeding classes and many, many doctor’s appointments. An area that is easy to overlook during your pregnancy is oral health. Having a healthy mouth and taking care of your teeth and gums is very important to both you and your baby’s overall health.

Is it safe to visit the dentist while pregnant?

Yes! You should continue going to your dentist during your pregnancy. Studies have shown that women who get their teeth cleaned regularly before they’re pregnant don’t always visit their dentist for a tooth cleaning during pregnancy.

Going to your dentist regularly helps with your overall health by:

  • Preventing tooth decay. When you’re pregnant, you have a greater risk of tooth decay. You’re snacking more frequently and morning sickness exposes your teeth to harsh acids. Your dentist will look for signs of tooth decay when you get your teeth cleaned every six months.
  • Watching for symptoms of gingivitis. During pregnancy, you are at risk for a mild form of periodontal disease, known as gingivitis. This makes the gums red, sore and could lead to bleeding. If you don’t get it treated, gingivitis can get worse and result in gum disease. Gum disease is harmful to you and your baby and could cause preterm birth or low birth weight.

Are X-rays safe during pregnancy?

X-rays for your teeth aren’t harmful, but your dentist will only take X-rays that are absolutely necessary for treatment, like in the case of a dental emergency. If you need X-rays, your dentist will ask you to wear a lead apron over your abdomen to protect your baby. Routine X-rays as part of your checkup will be postponed until after you have your baby.

Are anesthetics safe during pregnancy?

Your dentist may recommend routine dental work like fillings, root canals or having teeth pulled. These treatments are sometimes needed to reduce the chance of infection and are generally okay during pregnancy. Along with treatment comes the need to reduce any associated pain. Most anesthetics that numb the area just around the tooth are okay during pregnancy. Your dentist will talk through all your options.

What can I do at home to take care of my teeth?

Try these home-care routines for good oral health:

  • Rinse your mouth with water. This is important especially if you vomit because of morning sickness or if you eat sugary snacks throughout the day.
  • Brush and floss daily. This will help prevent gingivitis and keep your mouth healthy and clean.
  • Eat healthy foods. Did you know that what you eat during pregnancy affects the development of your baby’s teeth? Your baby’s teeth start to form as part of their fetal development during the second trimester, so now’s the time to get the right nutrients from a balanced diet.

During pregnancy, your goal is to maintain optimal health for you and your baby. This includes taking care of your teeth and gums and visiting the dentist regularly.