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Experts Corner


Safety Concerns During Pregnancy
by Jennifer Holtzman, DDS, Executive Director, ToothWoman Network

Jennifer Holtzman, DDSQ. Do I need to take extra care of my teeth during pregnancy? Is it safe to have dental treatments during pregnancy?

A. There are several reasons why pregnant women should keep their mouths as clean as possible, and not just the obvious: to reduce the stress on their baby by reducing the chances of dental procedures other than their regular cleaning/checkup.

Premature birth is a serious concern for all mothers, and premature births appear to be more common in women with severe gum disease. Mothers with periodontal disease also have eight times the chance of having pre-term low birth weight babies, a significant risk for infant mortality (about one-half of infant mortality is due to low birth weight).

It is a misconception that women lose teeth during pregnancy due to a loss of calcium. The elevated hormones make infection more difficult to control but if you brush and floss; you should be able to maintain good oral hygiene. It may well be worth taking the time to make sure with your dentist or hygienist that you are cleaning your teeth as effectively as you can. As the hormones levels increase, the tissue of the mouth becomes richer with blood, and it bleeds more easily. It also becomes swollen and painful, easier for the bacteria to accumulate in and around. Folate containing mouthwash may be able to reduce gingivitis.

The second trimester is considered the safest time for expectant mothers to have dental care. X-rays are considered to be safe, if their use is selective and it should be minimized, but not so much as to compromise treatment. All local anesthetics cross the placenta, so as little as required is best, though the epinephrine in the locals has no effect on the baby. Make appointments short, place a pillow under the right hip to reduce the negative effects from lying down.

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