Dental Library- Pregnancy
There have been recent concerns about teeth cleanings during pregnancy. Research in Pennsylvania has examined the link between dental treatment and potential complications to pregnant women. The concern is that bacteria can enter the bloodstream during teeth cleanings and affect the baby, possibly causing premature births or low birth weights. Since the bacteria can become systemic, spread through out the body, even without any dental intervention and adversely affect the health of the fetus the best way to avoid this is to have regular continuing care dental appointments and practicing effective daily oral home care. This will reduce the overall bacterial load in the mouth, especially those bacteria associated with causing pregnancy complications. As with most health conditions the most effective and least costly management is prevention. With this possibility in mind, special precautions are taken when treating pregnant patients if necessary or emergency dental care is needed during pregnancy.
However, to help avoid necessary or emergency dental care during pregnancy, women planning to have a baby should get all their dental treatment taken care of prior to pregnancy. Good oral care is the best means to prevent any dental problem. But even with good oral hygiene prior to pregnancy, hormone changes that occur while a woman is pregnant can irritate the gums, making them red and inflamed and cause them to bleed during brushing. Inflammation can also cause the gums to recede, making it easier for bacteria to get at the roots of the teeth and possibly enter the bloodstream and cause a more serious infection. This reinforces the need for extremely good home care and overall oral hygiene to prevent complications due to the hormonal changes that are associated with pregnancy. A satisfactory level of oral hygiene prior to pregnancy is no longer sufficient during pregnancy.
If already pregnant, a woman should get only dental treatment that is necessary. This may include cleanings if pregnancy gingivitis occurs. Routine X-rays are not recommended during pregnancy but some can be taken in emergency situations using precautions to protect the baby such as lead apron shields, narrow beam x-ray machines and fast X-ray film that requires the least amount of radiation possible. However, if possible, major dental treatment and elective dental treatment should be postponed until after delivery. If this is not possible the second trimester is the best period to have dental treatment. The mother is over morning sickness and the fetus is not yet large enough to cause significant discomfort to the mother while being treated.