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Don’t forget about your dentist while pregnant

Plus, at-home tips to keep up your oral health

By David Klein, DDS, FAGD, FACD
August 22, 2017

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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 gingivitis. During pregnancy, you are at risk for a mild form of gum 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 develop in 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.

About David Klein, DDS, FAGD, FACD

Dr. David Klein is the Assistant Dental Director of the HealthPartners Dental Plan. Prior to joining HealthPartners, he owned and operated a successful private dental practice in Bloomington, Minn. He was also a full-time faculty member at the University of Minnesota, School of Dentistry. A lifetime Minnesotan, Dr. Klein enjoys nature photography, exploring national parks across the country with his wife and two kids, and staying active through racquetball, tennis and biking. “HealthPartners strongly promotes the mouth-body connection through research, plan design and care delivery, which makes it an exciting place to work,” Dr. Klein says. He appreciates the HealthPartners philosophy and promotion of medical-dental integration, which is why he’s an advocate for educating expecting moms on the importance of oral health during pregnancy.

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