Pregnancy, Breastfeeding & Dental Treatment
How a woman cares for her teeth during her pregnancy can affect her health and her developing baby. During the course of pregnancy, some women have a reduced ability to fight bacteria and, as a result, may have sore and bleeding gums, bad breath, cavities, and sensitive teeth. Once the baby is born, many problems are reversible, with the exception of decay and bone loss. If a woman does not have healthy teeth and gums before she becomes pregnant, these problems may worsen and remain after her baby is born.
The hormonal changes of pregnancy that affect the mouth may have no consequence to your overall health, while others may be signs of potential pregnancy complications.
Uncomfortable growths on the gums may appear as deep red or purple and are commonly referred to as “Pregnancy Tumours” and are often caused by the hormone change reacting to a severe accumulation of bacteria (“Plaque and Tartar”). The pregnant patient may benefit from undergoing two periodontal treatments (“cleaning”) during her pregnancy to reduce the risk of growth formation. They generally disappear after delivery while some may require a minor surgical procedure to remove them.
Gums that bleed mildly during brushing and inflammation of the gums (“Gingivitis”) are normal effects of the hormone changes. However, a bacterial infection of the gums and bone supporting the teeth (“Periodontitis”) is linked to premature births and low birth-weight babies because the bacteria are able to travel from the diseased mouth through the placenta affecting the unborn child.
Excessive nausea and vomiting caused by hormone changes during pregnancy can cause erosion of tooth enamel and consequently increased tooth sensitivity.
Treatment During Your Pregnancy
If a woman believes she is pregnant it is recommended that she consult with her dentist as soon as possible. It is recommended that pregnant patients come in for a periodontal treatment during their first trimester and at least one additional visit before the delivery date. If the pregnant patient has bleeding gums, sensitivity or decay, it is advisable that she seek treatment, which may include additional periodontal treatment and management of decay. While routine dental work can be done safely during pregnancy, the safest time is during the second and third trimesters. However, be aware that as you get into your third trimester you may not be able to lie down comfortably in a dental chair. Therefore, see your dentist early.
X-ray Radiographs During Pregnancy – Are They Safe?
Having radiographs taken during pregnancy is always a big concern for expecting mothers. In the past, they were right to be concerned; radiation dosage was high and not focused onto a small area. The digital radiographs we use in our office have changed that. They are not only highly focused and expose a very small area of the body, but also greatly reduce the amount of radiation, making them safe for the mother and her developing baby.
Is Dental Treatment Safe If I Breastfeed My Child?
It is safe to have dental treatment if you are breastfeeding. Local anesthetics do not cross through into breast milk and therefore will not impact the baby. However, if you do require medications for pain relief, for example, please ensure that you have informed your dentist as some medications may impact the overall health of your child.
The Importance of Periodontal Treatment (“Cleaning”) During Pregnancy
It is common knowledge that when a woman becomes pregnant it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle and eat a balanced diet to ensure the health of herself and her developing baby. It is also no surprise that maintaining optimal oral health is an integral component of a healthy lifestyle.
Many studies have concluded that expectant mothers’ periodontal health (i.e. the health of the gums and bone supporting teeth) is vital to the health of her baby.
Periodontal disease (also known as “gum disease”) is a chronic, bacteria-induced, inflammatory condition that attacks gum tissue and in more severe cases, the bone supporting teeth. If this disease is left untreated it can lead to tooth loss and has been associated with other systemic diseases including diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Additionally, research has shown that women with periodontal disease may be at risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as giving birth to pre-term or low birth-weight babies.
The most common signs and symptoms include tenderness, redness, swollen and bleeding. These signs, especially during pregnancy, should not be ignored and should be treated at a dental office before infection spreads or worsens.
Pre-term (i.e. born at least three weeks before the due date) and low birth-weight babies (i.e. less than 5.5lbs) are at an increased risk of long-term health problems such as delayed motor skills, social growth, and learning disabilities. Additional health concerns include respiratory problems, vision and hearing loss, or feeding and digestive problems.
We always encourage our pregnant patients to achieve optimal oral health and recommend regular periodontal treatment / “cleaning” appointments during pregnancy.
At Westmount Dental the Doctors and Hygienists do not underestimate its value, and neither should you.
Our dentists provide a full range of treatment including dental implants, root canal therapy, wisdom tooth surgery, sedation, Invisalign orthodontics, and cosmetic treatments. most importantly, our preventive dental care program aims to reduce the risk of you and your family requiring more invasive and costly treatment.
Our office is located in the heart of Thornhill in Vaughan. Call today to schedule your appointment.