Dental Care During Pregnancy

Oral health can vary during pregnancy and St. Lawrence Dentistry would like to be part of your health team and contribute to making this period as pleasant as possible. Generally, pregnant women often will feel extra conscious about their physical well-being because they are aware the health of the unborn child is dependent on how she takes care of herself. During pregnancy dental treatment may be modified but need not be withheld provided that proper risk assessment is made for both the patient and the fetus. If you are pregnant please alert the staff at St. Lawrence Dentistry.

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Pregnancy causes profound and remarkable changes in all organ systems and this can manifest as changes to your oral environment. There will often be an increase in total body water content and increase in blood plasma volume. The clotting effects of blood are enhanced and this can lead to conditions such as deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary edema. Proper monitoring by your medical doctor is essential to prevent the above and other potential conditions. Your hearts capacity increases and your respiratory capacity can decrease. All in all, the pregnant women that presents for dental care at our office requires special consideration. The management of these patient at St. Lawrence Dentistry may require the alteration in the timing and type of dental treatment as well as modification of drugs prescribed.

The major concern of drug administration during pregnancy is the potential for adverse effects as most drugs can cross the placenta. Local anesthetics, analgesics, and antibiotics are the most commonly used drugs in dentistry. Local anesthetics are considered safe to administer to pregnant patients providing that they are used in a way which minimizes any risk of intravascular injection. At St. Lawrence Dentistry we use Lidocaine as this is considered among the best class of local anesthetics for pregnant patients. Among antibiotics, Penicillin and Amoxicillin are the safest and most commonly prescribed during pregnancy. Tetracycline antibiotics are definitely not recommended during pregnancy because they are deposited in the dental tissue of the fetus causing tooth discoloration. Pain pills like Asprin and Ibuprofen should be avoided.

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Routine dental treatment may be done at our office during pregnancy. We may consult with your physician to clarify any individual issues you may have, especially in the case of dental emergencies during the first trimester. Unless emergency treatment is required, it is advisable to defer elective treatment during the first trimester because of potential vulnerability to the fetus. The second trimester is the safest time to perform routine dental care as is the early part of the third trimester. However, no elective dental treatment is advisable during the late part of the third trimester.

The key to managing your oral health during this period is the understanding these changes and how important an augmented oral care routine is. You will find your gums may be bleeding more during pregnancy because hormone levels change considerably during all trimesters. Gums can become inflamed and bleed more easily, even by simple brushing. This is due to changes in mouth bacteria that feed on the extra hormones secreted during pregnancy, and in the overall increase of fluid levels in the body as the pregnancy progresses. Regular professional dental cleanings are an important part of reducing the inflammation that can occur during pregnancy. You many even find after the pregnancy your gums continue to bleed as your body recovers. Dr. Hawryluk will assess your individual situation and see what is best to control any inflammation.

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St. Lawrence Dentistry suggests scheduling an examination by during the first trimester to have your oral health diagnosed. This visit may include light scaling, polishing, as well as review of oral hygiene recommendations. Sometimes during pregnancy our hygienists may recommend more frequent cleanings to keep your gums as least inflamed as possible. Our goal is to ensure healthy gums the whole way through pregnancy. It is important that Dr. Hawryluk is informed of all the drugs you are taking, including prenatal vitamins.

Patients often ask if x-rays should be taken during pregnancy. It is considered safe to have dental radiographs, although, St. Lawrence Dentistry tries to avoid taking them, except in the case of a dental emergency. If a patient has an acute infection (such as an abscess), it’s important it be treated promptly. If you require X-rays, you and your baby will be shielded from the low dose of radiation by a lead apron.

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We suggest pregnant women try to stay away from sugary snacks to avoid developing tooth decay. While sweet cravings are normal during pregnancy, it should be regulated. Studies have shown that the bacteria causing tooth decay are passed from the mother to the child. A healthy, balanced diet is what pregnant women should have. Healthy diets containing dairy products, cheese, and yogurt are a good source of these essential minerals and are good for a baby’s developing teeth, gums, and bones.

Pregnancy can be a period of frequent vomiting for some women and this can impact oral health. Stomach acid can damage the surface of your teeth and promote tooth decay. Dr. Hawryluk recommends to rinse with water right after a vomiting event and not brush right away, since doing so tends to brush the acids into the teeth. If vomiting is really severe, you can rinse with a neutralizing rinse made by adding a teaspoon of baking soda to room-temperature water and swishing, then spitting.

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It is common for women to sometimes jokingly ask us if it’s true that each pregnancy causes the loss of a tooth. This of course is just an old tale past on through many generations. The calcium needed to make your baby’s teeth comes directly from your diet, not from your own teeth. However, if you don’t get enough calcium while pregnant, your body will provide this essential mineral from the calcium in your bones, putting your bones at risk. The best source of nutrients is a well-balanced diet, with a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and dairy products. This can be difficult to achieve if a you are suffering for nausea and vomiting. You may want to consider asking your obstetrician what additional supplements may be needed.

Establishing a healthy oral environment is the most important objective in the planning of dental care in the pregnant patient. This objective is achieved by adequate dental cleaning, comprised of tooth brushing, flossing, and professional hygienist visits. If you live in the Mississauga area and are looking for a dentist we would be happy to work with you to achieve the best oral care regime during this special period and beyond.

References: Ontario Dental Association