Dental care in pregnancy – is it safe?

Worried about dental care in pregnancy? Learn why dental treatment in pregnancy is so important.

True or false? It’s safe to go to the dentist when pregnant.

If you answered false, you’re wrong – but you’re not the only one to be mistaken. Most ‘mums-to-be’ worry about the risk of dental care during pregnancy; so much so, they will avoid the dentist altogether. But the truth is, your dental health can have a huge impact on the health of your baby. It’s more important than ever to look after your teeth and visits to the dentist are both 100% safe and recommended.

Why is dental care in pregnancy so important?

Hormonal changes during pregnancy can affect your dental health in numerous ways. For example, they can cause:

Pregnancy gingivitis

This is a condition developed by many women, which causes inflammation and bleeding of the gums. If left untreated, it can lead to more serious forms of gum disease.

Pregnancy tumours

These are small (yet very sore) overgrowths of tissue. They commonly appear on the gums during pregnancy and have been associated with excess levels of plaque.

Cavities

Due to cravings, you may be eating more carbohydrates and sugary foods than usual. This can lead to tooth decay and, over time, can cause permanent damage to the enamel.

Erosion

For those who suffer from morning sickness, the acid in vomit can erode the teeth.

Aside from risks to your own dental health, avoiding dental treatment during pregnancy may also harm your baby’s development. Much research has been conducted into this area and there’s some evidence to support a link between poor dental health and both premature and low weight births.

These conditions and complications may sound scary, but by brushing and flossing (twice daily) and maintaining regular dental visits throughout your pregnancy, they can be easily prevented.

woman practicing dental care during pregnancy

Which dental treatments can I have whilst pregnant?

It’s safe to have most dental treatments whilst pregnant. For the reasons outlined above, regular check-ups and hygienist appointments are highly recommended. Simple procedures (e.g. cavity walls, crowns etc.) and emergency work (e.g. root canal, tooth extractions) are also perfectly fine – especially if these are required to maintain your dental health and prevent infection.

The only treatment that should be avoided is the removal of amalgam fillings. If disrupted and released into the body, it’s possible for the mercury in the amalgam to cross the placenta and have adverse health effects on the developing baby.

It’s also a good idea to delay any unnecessary dental work – such as teeth whitening and elective orthodontics – until after the birth. Although safe, if there’s no immediate need to have these procedures done, why bother?

What is the safest time to visit the dentist when pregnant?

Despite popular belief, it’s safe to visit the dentist at any stage of your pregnancy.

Some people worry about miscarrying during the first trimester – but, rest assured, there’s no evidence to support a connection between an early dental visit during pregnancy and miscarriage.

Appointments in the latter months can be uncomfortable. You may find it difficult to lie on the dentist’s chair for long periods, which is why the second trimester is regarded as the ‘best’ time to see a dentist when pregnant. But if you require a dental procedure to promote your overall dental health, it’s always better to get it done – no matter what stage of pregnancy you’re currently at.

Are local anaesthetics harmful to my baby?

In short, no – the most commonly used local anaesthetics will not harm your baby. Studies have shown they make no difference to the risk of miscarriage, birth defects, prematurity and birth weight. Just be sure to let the dentist know you’re pregnant. If a stronger anaesthetic is needed, they’ll let you know in advance and you can discuss its safety with a doctor or midwife.

Can I have a dental x-ray whilst pregnant?

Thanks to advances in digital radiotherapy, it’s perfectly safe to have a dental x-ray whilst pregnant. Any risks associated with the radiation are negligible and, as an extra precaution, the dentist will provide a special garment or device to shield your abdomen and protect the baby from exposure.

woman having dental treatment during pregnancy

Book your antenatal dental care with a dentist in St Helens

Here at Kiln Lane Dental, we welcome all ‘mums-to-be’ who are looking for dental treatment. We understand the benefits of dental care in pregnancy – and, as a leading family dentist in St Helens, we will always put the safety of your baby first and ensure the highest standard of care.

If you’re worried about a particular procedure and would like to discuss an issue in more detail, please feel free to get in touch. Our experts will happily answer your questions and will strive to ease any concerns you may have about dental treatment in pregnancy. Either give us a call on 01744 25776 or send an email to info@kilnlanedental.co.uk and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

In between trips to the midwife, antenatal classes and decorating the nursery, don’t let a visit to the dentist fall off your pregnancy to-do list. Book an appointment with our St Helens dentist today!