Pregnancy is a momentous time in a woman’s life, full of excitement and worries as she anticipates the coming of a new life. Pregnancy can also be characterized by strong food cravings. As women eat more frequently to satisfy their increased appetite during pregnancy, they could end up with more buildup on their teeth. That buildup could eventually harden into a soft, sticky film called plaque. Plaque contains bacteria that could attack the teeth, gums, and bones surrounding the teeth.
In addition to the frequent cravings for food, pregnancy is also characterized by a surge of estrogen and progesterone that affect the way the gum tissues of expectant mothers react to the plaque. A rise in hormone levels during pregnancy could result in the gums swelling, bleeding, and trapping food particles, which could further irritate the gums.
Many pregnant women worry about the safety of routine dental procedures during this period. Most preventative dental work is not only safe, it is also necessary in order to avoid oral infections which have been associated with pre-term birth. Pregnant women should continue to get cavity fillings and crowns to reduce the chance of infection.
If pregnant women have concerns about dental work, they should schedule it during the second trimester. The baby’s first trimester is often considered to be more developmentally delicate than the second, and by the third trimester, an expecting mother may not be able to lie on her back for an extended period of time.
Emergency dental work, such as tooth extraction or a root canal, should proceed during pregnancy, but other non-emergency procedures, such as teeth whitening and cosmetic procedures, should be postponed. Dental work that requires numbing should use the minimum amount of anesthesia. The use of antibiotics, such as penicillin, to treat infection is considered safe as long as the drugs fall under the B category for safety in pregnancy.
Pregnant women in Weber County who are experiencing dental problems may consult clinics devoted to family dentistry in West Haven or other nearby cities.