Get Your Prenatal Dental Check-up Now! Here’s Why…

Get Your Prenatal Dental Check-up Now! Here’s Why…

Get Your Prenatal Dental Check-up Now! Here’s Why…

Read the article further, to get 8 simple tips that ensure good dental health.

As a mother myself is a mix of all kinds of emotions. From being skeptical, euphoric, worried to have a ton of questions about everything!

Pregnancy could be both- the most challenging and rewarding experience at the same time.

While we brace ourselves for the arrival of our little one, we want to have everything right…right from Lamaze classes, breathing exercises, proper diet, taking regular supplements to have baby showers.

As a mom myself, and a dentist who has been practicing for over two decades, I can sense the heightened sense of responsibility we women feel for our unborn baby. Expecting mothers take all the measures to safeguard their baby’s health, like abstaining from smoking, alcohol, drug use (avoiding painkillers for severe headache), and exercising regularly.

What is often missed, overlooked, or understated is the importance of having optimal dental health during, and before pregnancy.

In my practice, I have often faced a dilemma when I come across pregnant women who need dental treatment.

I have treated four expecting moms, just in the last month. Each one asked me one common question

Is it safe to have dental treatment during pregnancy?

The answer is not a straightforward black and white! We have a lot of limitations when a woman is pregnant.

1. Harmful X-Rays

Firstly, we cannot take x-rays. Although the digital X Rays have very low radiation, it is still ionizing radiation, meaning, it can be absorbed by the skin cells and affect the DNA.

2. Limitations in the usage of antibiotics

Secondly, if there is a dental infection, like abscess(pus), swelling, severe pain, or any other problem, we have limitations in prescribing antibiotics or pain relievers for obvious reasons.

3. Gingivitis

In pregnancy, gingivitis affects as much as 60-75percent of women. It usually starts at the second month of gestation and reaches the highest level by the eighth month. Most of them spontaneously disappear after childbirth. In some cases, where the gums/granulomas bleed excessively, we prefer to use dental lasers to treat it. It is painless, bloodless, quick, and most importantly safe.

The problem occurs when untreated gingivitis progresses to periodontitis (inflammation or infection in the supporting apparatus of the teeth). There have been clinical studies that show a connection between severe periodontitis in mothers and pre-term deliveries, low birth weight in infants, and predisposition to preeclampsia (pregnancy-related high blood pressure).

4. Transmissible Tooth Decay

There is another study that proves that tooth decay is indeed transmissible from mother to the unborn baby. Although the baby gets his/her first teeth after 6 months, traces of bacteria have been found in the infant’s mouth right from birth. There are cariogenic (tooth decay-causing) bacteria like Mutans Streptococci which the mother may be harboring in her mouth due to untreated cavities, and the baby is very likely to have the same bacteria. If these bacteria colonize in the baby’s mouth, the child will be prone to cavities once he/she gets their first teeth.

To sum it up, children of mothers with a lot of untreated cavities are more likely to have cavities as kids.

Although the FDA has approved the use of lidocaine with epinephrine in pregnancy, I personally (and many others) tend to avoid it for patients unless and until absolutely imperative.

So, the best bet here is to have a prenatal dental checkup.

If you are planning to have a baby, make sure you make an appointment with your dentist. Your dentist can have a look at your mouth, take necessary X-rays if needed, do the necessary fillings and have your prophylaxis (scaling and polishing) appointment scheduled.

Besides the prenatal dental clean-up, another session could be necessary even during the second trimester as the gums react very strongly especially during this phase because of hormones like estrogen. It is this heightened reaction that makes prenatal checkups important.

List of Tips to Take Care of Your Dental Health Before and During Pregnancy

  1.  As soon as you plan conception, plan your dental visit. Tell your dentist about this and have a thorough dental exam including any X-Rays if needed.
  2. Get all the cavities filled, even the smaller ones. During pregnancy, existing cavities can get worse due to reasons like regurgitation, vomiting, acid reflux, and craving for carbonated or sweet foods or high-carb processed food.
  3. Get your prenatal scaling (teeth cleaning) done. In some moms, the gums react strongly to plaque and tartar esp. during pregnancy due to hormones. It may lead to excessive bleeding in gums, pregnancy epulis/gum tumors, or overall redness and pain in the gums. Scaling will help remove these triggers which wreak havoc during those nine months. Sometimes another session or two may be needed additionally to a prenatal session of scaling/cleaning.
  4. Cut down on sugary drinks and junk food as much as possible.
  5. Improve your intake of vitamin B and C for better gum health and have plenty of calcium-rich foods like spinach, cheese nuts, and beans.
  6. Along with the right type of food and good homecare, Vitamin D is also important for proper absorption of calcium, both for mommy(lactation) and baby (strong bones and teeth). Take a stroll in the morning sun for 30-40 minutes along with prescribed supplements.
  7. Brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day! Besides this being very common advice to ensure dental health, this also will become a good habit that your child will see you doing. And kids see, kids copy! From very early on.
  8. Even if your dental problems are taken care of and your dentist gives you a green signal, plan to see your dentist every 3 months to review your oral health. The reason is that most gum diseases are silent, meaning there is no significant pain or malaise during this particularly vulnerable time.

Lastly and importantly, be aware of the small and big changes happening in your mouth/ body. Feel free to discuss these with your obstetrician or dentist.

Article by - Dr. Kashmira S. Kothari | BDS, MD, Dental Lasers (Austria) | Faculty and Joint secretary, SOLA India


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About Me

Hi, I am Ekta Dharap, a mom of a tiny tod. I have learnt that to take optimum care of your little one, it's imperative to first take care of your own wellness and well-being. Besides, our children look up to us, and how we treat ourselves. This makes putting self care as top priority, without an ounce of guilt.

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