All mothers feel an innate instinct to protect the child within their womb from anything and everything they can. This is nature’s most beautiful and powerful bond. It is therefore natural to err on the side of caution in situations that would otherwise be completely normal. Situations like a trip to the dentist can undoubtedly be a cause for concern for many mothers to be and their families. They often wonder about the impact and reactions it could illicit from both mother and child. Should I be having dental work done while pregnant? Is there anything I should avoid or be aware of for the sake of my child? Luckily, a plethora of research has made it evident that not only is maintaining strong oral hygiene practices such as your regularly scheduled cleanings safe for pregnant women, it is also highly recommended.
Unfortunately, the questions and reservations people have led to a lot of inaction. Not nearly enough pregnant women opt to visit their dentists for their required appointments. Compounding this is the fact that those with less than ideal tooth and gum health could be putting their babies’ lives at an elevated level of risk. This is because the oral bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease can put an unborn child at risk and complicate pregnancies unnecessarily. Mothers who have gum disease while pregnant are seven times more likely to give birth to premature babies or those with lower than average birth weights. The inflammation caused by gum disease can also increase mommy’s blood pressure, which presents other serious complications. This list includes kidney failure, hemorrhaging and possibly strokes, strong stress reactions your baby has to be nurtured through.
Babies that are underweight and premature are more likely to have their own health complications to contend with throughout life. A long and depressing list can be found here. Several worth noting are developmental and learning related disabilities, respiratory ailments and pneumonia. The fact is; maintaining and ensuring strong oral health while pregnant is paramount in giving you and your bundle of joy a head start in your life together.
For various reasons including the desire to pee every 10 minutes while 8 months pregnant, it is highly recommended that you make a trip to the dentist as early on in your pregnancy as possible. The other reason for not holding off on the trip has to do with protecting your baby by reducing their exposure to some of the aforementioned risks. What it comes down to is; if your pregnancy does not have any complications, you should be keen on going to the dentist. Those who are unsure should consult with their Obstetrician or Physician. The following are some facts to consider before making your visit:
Fluoride treatments and local anesthesia post no additional risk as compared to not taking them;
Consult with your primary natal care physician before booking and attending your dental appointment and determine if any complications that exist during your pregnancy could make dental treatment a risk;
Don’t hesitate to ask either your dental care provider or obstetrician if the other can contact them to discuss questions they may have;
Oral x-rays can be taken as required. The lowest level of radiation and lead shielding should be used;
Your dentists and hygienists are more than happy to answer questions you may have; and
If you are experiencing pain in your mouth during pregnancy, you should make a trip to your dentist a priority as infection or other issues could arise over time.
The CSDA link below provides an excellent all-encompassing take on dental treatment recommendations while pregnant. Please read it and share with someone you know who may be pregnant or planning a child.
Photo: Canadian Family