FAQs About Dental Care If You're Pregnant
While you may stay up to date on your primary care appointments while you are pregnant, you might have fallen behind on your dental care. If you have questions or concerns about oral healthcare during pregnancy, read on to find answers to some frequently asked questions.
Are Dental X-Rays Safe During Pregnancy?
While there are a lot of conflicting studies regarding the safety of other X-rays, Americanpregnancy.org says that dental X-ray beams tend to be safe for pregnant women because there is little exposure to other areas of the body, like the reproductive organs. Plus, you'll be wearing a lead apron with a collar, which will reduce your exposure since the materials in the aprons deflect ionization.
However, it's a good idea to talk with your dentist and/or obstetrician before undergoing x-rays so that you are fully aware of any risks. Dental X-rays aren't required at every visit—especially if you have a history of good oral hygiene—so your dentist may decide that's okay to forgo X-rays until you've had your baby.
Why Are Your Gums Inflamed During Pregnancy?
If you notice that your gums are inflamed or bleeding, you might be suffering from gingivitis. Gingivitis is a common problem for pregnant women because hormonal changes in the body cause an increase in blood flow to gum tissues. This increase in blood flow causes the gums to be abnormally sensitive and swollen. Unfortunately, hormonal changes can also affect the way your body deals with infections, meaning that you might have a buildup of oral bacteria.
If you let gingivitis get out of control, it can develop into a more serious gum disease called periodontitis. Research shows that periodontitis can not only affect your health, but it might affect your baby's health, as well. The bacteria that causes gum inflammation can get in the bloodstream and lead to premature labor or a low birth weight in infants.
In short, it's not only a good idea to brush and floss regularly, but it's also a good idea for pregnant women to visit their dentist for preventative dental cleanings. Regular dental cleanings can help you prevent gingivitis or periodontitis and protect your baby.
Why Do You Have More Cavities During or After Pregnancy?
Some women may notice that they develop more cavities during or after pregnancy. This decay could be due to morning sickness. Because morning sickness leads to vomiting or acid reflux, your enamel can be exposed to acidic stomach contents. To neutralize these acids, you should be drinking lots of water throughout the day. Fluoridated water is also safe and helps to strengthen your enamel.
If you vomit, you may be tempted to immediately brush your teeth, but you should wait about a half an hour before doing so. If you brush your teeth immediately after throwing up, then you could actually brush the acidic components further into your enamel.
You should also stay on top of your regular dental cleanings. Your dentist may even recommend more visits during your pregnancy so that you can avoid both gingivitis and cavities.
Contact a dentist in your area for more information on any questions you may have about oral healthcare during pregnancy.