Should Expecting Mothers Visit the Dentist?
In the past, many dentists were hesitant to treat pregnant patients. As a result many women did not receive timely dental care they needed. However, dental treatment during pregnancy is typically beneficial and there is now a shift towards continuing routine dental care during pregnancy.
You obviously want to make all the right decisions during your pregnancy, and it is normal to question what dental services should be performed when you’re expecting. Dr. Howard Minkoff, the chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, believes that dental X-rays, antibiotics, and local anesthesia are not contraindicated in treatment of pregnant patients. And since 2006, a few state dental organizations have issued guidelines saying that dental care is safe and effective at any stage of pregnancy. This includes diagnostic X-rays, cavity restorations and root canals. This is definitely a shift from what was thought in the past.
When pregnant, the risk for gingivitis (gum inflammation) is typically a little higher because of a change in hormones. If not properly treated, the gum disease can lead to dental infections and even tooth loss. Just as importantly, there is evidence that a mother with active tooth decay can spread the cavity causing bacteria to hear child and perpetuate poor oral health.
Finally, we worry that dental pain may cause pregnant women to self-medicate incorrectly. While physicians recommend acetaminophen over ibuprofen for pain control, an overdose of acetaminophen can negatively affect the liver and thus endanger the fetus. There are already enough challenges during pregnancy, and having to deal with dental pain is one more issue that can hopefully be avoided.
As the shift towards more routine dental care during pregnancy continues, we understand that patients may still continue to have concerns. When in doubt, or if you have a history of other conditions, we will always error on the side of caution and consult with your physician. But we believe that keeping your mouth healthy will help aid in a safe pregnancy for you and your family.