Women of Mill Creek: Include a dental exam on your pregnancy checklist
During pregnancy, a woman has a lot to think about. From registering for a stroller, to scheduling a slew of doctor appointments, there is so much to remember. But there is another item that should be added to the checklist prior to baby’s arrival: A dental exam.
Research has shown good oral health during pregnancy protects not only the mother, but also the unborn child. But, in 2007-2009, 35 percent of U.S. women reported that they did not visit the dentist during the past year and 56 percent of women did not visit a dentist at all during pregnancy.
Maternal oral health during pregnancy is absolutely critical, so our experts here at Wildwood Dental are answering questions to share its importance with Mill Creek-area moms.
What happens in my mouth during pregnancy?
After becoming pregnant, a woman may experience changes in her oral health due to the surge in hormones, which can cause gum tissues to exaggerate a typical reaction to plaque. If plaque isn’t removed twice each day, it can harden into tartar and may increase the risk of gingivitis, a condition with symptoms of red, swollen and tender gums that are more likely to bleed. This “pregnancy gingivitis” affects the majority of pregnant women and can surface as early as 8 weeks along. If untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontitis, a more serious form of gum disease.
Excessive bacteria can enter the bloodstream through your gums. If this happens, bacteria can travel to the uterus, triggering the production of chemicals called prostaglandins, which have shown in a study* to possibly induce preterm birth. Though further research is needed, we do know preventive dental care during pregnancy improves oral health and overall health and is safe for both mom and baby.
Should dental procedures be avoided during pregnancy?
No. All necessary dental care can be provided safely any time during pregnancy and should be completed without delay.** The team at Wildwood will ensure that your care is coordinated with your physician, and that you are comfortable during your treatment. Dental X-rays are safe during pregnancy when a protective lead apron is utilized. Our fully digital X-rays use far less radiation, and we use X-rays only as needed to accurately diagnose your dental conditions. Elective procedures such as tooth whitening and cosmetic treatments are deferred until after pregnancy is completed.
What can I do to prevent issues?
To prevent oral health issues during pregnancy, women should brush and floss regularly and eat a healthy diet.
If you notice any changes in your oral health during pregnancy, please let our dentists know by scheduling an appointment.
Your oral health is an important part of your overall health and good dental hygiene will not only prevent problems during pregnancy, but will also ensure a healthy start to your baby’s life.
* Periodontal infection and preterm birth: results of a prospective study, 2001 Journal of American Dental Association, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11480640
** Oral Health from Birth: Using Evidence-Based Care to Manage and Treat Pregnant Patients, University of Washington’s Distinguished Professorship in Dentistry Symposium, Seattle, WA, April 26, 2013.