Pregnancy and Dental Care

Congratulations! You’re pregnant! In between attending all of your visits to the doctor/obstetrician, midwives, antenatal classes, you should visit the dentist before your baby arrives. Let’s face it, it is also probably logistically easier to complete any dental treatments before the baby is born!

A dental checkup during pregnancy is safe and important for your dental health.

Among the potential benefits of good dental health during pregnancy, it may also decrease the transmission of cavity-causing bacteria from mother to baby, which can help reduce the child’s future risk of cavities.

When to tell us that you are pregnant

Even if you only think you might be pregnant, let us know. Tell us how far along you are when you make your appointment and any medications you are taking or if you have received any special advice from your doctor.

Dental X-Rays During Pregnancy

Yes, it’s safe to get an x-ray during pregnancy. The radiation from dental xrays are extremely low and it is now widely accepted by dentists and obstetricians that such low radiation from routine dental xrays wouldn’t harm the baby.

Local Anaesthetics During Pregnancy

If you’re pregnant and need a filling, root canal or tooth pulled, you do not need to worry about the safety of the numbing medications your dentist may use during the procedure.

They are, in fact, safe for both you and your baby.

Common oral health issues during pregnancy

The old wives’ tale that the baby draws calcium from the mother’s bones/teeth leading to more cavities is one of the biggest myths. The common dental issues are:

1. Vomiting / Acid Reflux: not all pregnant patients experience this, however, even occasional vomiting brings up very acidic stomach contents which can erode your teeth, leading to decay. Pregnancy hormones soften the ring of muscle that keeps food inside the stomach. Acid reflux (regurgitating food or drink) or the vomiting associated with morning sickness can coat your teeth with strong stomach acids. Repeated reflux and vomiting can damage tooth enamel and increase the risk of decay. Suggestions include:

  • Avoid brushing your teeth immediately after vomiting. While the teeth are covered in stomach acids, the action of the toothbrush may scratch the tooth enamel.
  • Rinse your mouth thoroughly with plain tap water.
  • Follow up with a fluoridated mouthwash.
  • If you don’t have a fluoridated mouthwash, put a dab of fluoridated toothpaste on your finger and smear it over your teeth. Rinse thoroughly with water.
  • Brush your teeth at least an hour after vomiting.

2. Changes in Oral Hygiene: Some pregnant women retch when brushing their molar teeth. We recommend you perserve with brushing your teeth twice a day as you risk tooth decay if you do not regularly brush your teeth. We provide some suggestions that my assist:

  • Use a brush with a small head, such as a brush made for toddlers.
  • Take your time. Slow down your brushing action.
  • It may help to close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing.
  • Try other distractions, such as listening to music.

3. Food Cravings / Changes in Diet:with pregnancy and breastfeeding, some women will start eating sugary foods they did not typically consume before.  A regular craving for sugary snacks can lead to increased decay.

If you must satisfy your craving with sweetness, try to sometimes choose healthier options such as fresh fruits. Rinse your mouth with water or milk, or brush your teeth after having sugary snacks.

4. Gum problems / Pregnancy Gingivitis: Your mouth can be affected by the hormonal changes you will experience during pregnancy which can make some women more susceptible to gum problems.

  • For example, some women develop a condition known as “pregnancy gingivitis,” an inflammation of the gums that can cause swelling and tenderness that is more likely to occur during the    second trimester. Your gums also may bleed a little when you brush or floss.
  • During pregnancy, the gum problems that occur are not due to increased plaque, but a worse response to plaque as a result of increased hormone levels.
  • Left untreated, gingivitis can lead to more serious forms of gum disease so be sure to let us know if you are experiencing any of these symptoms. Switch to a softer toothbrush and brush your teeth regularly, at least twice every day.

The Compass Dental Care team, the friendly Darwin dentists are always happy to answer any questions and assist you throughout this momentus life change!