What you need to know about dental work during pregnancy, as well as why it’s so important to take care of your teeth and gums for a healthy pregnancy.
When I was about 20 weeks pregnant with Oliver, I had to get my wisdom teeth taken out.
I had known that my wisdom teeth were in for a few years, but they didn’t bother me, so I never made it a priority to get them taken out.
Well, I started getting horrible headaches and the pain started getting worse and worse throughout my pregnancy, and when I went into the dentist, it became obvious that I had to get them taken out.
The dental office I went to is called Comfort Dental….but I renamed it Torture Dental.
There is definitely a reason they recommend avoiding dental work during pregnancy! When I get my widom teeth out, my dentist decided I needed to have dental planning (or a deep cleaning done) because my gums were so bad. This was most likely due to two pregnancies where I vomited bile almost every day…which isn’t so good for the gums or teeth. Pregnancy hormones also make your gums not so great either.
Let’s just say it was a miserable time in my life. Especially because I wasn’t allowed to have much more than a little bit of numbing during the procedure.
Dental health is actually very much connected to the likelihood of having a successful pregnancy. It’s so important to take care of your teeth and your gums!
Throughout the process, I realized that there isn’t a ton of information out there about dental care and dental work during pregnancy…so I thought I’d share a few tips so maybe you can avoid the situation I got myself in.
Check up BEFORE Pregnancy
Obviously, not all pregnancies are planned, and there will occasionally be a dental emergency you may not be able to avoid.
However, if you can, go to the dentist before you get pregnant. This is a great time to have your dentist check your teeth, gums, etc., and get any work done that needs to be done. Had I done this, I would have saved myself a lot of grief!
You should also make sure you go to your regular check up if it falls during your pregnancy (which it will, since you should go every six months).
Take care of your gums
Bleeding gums are relatively common during pregnancy – around 1/2 of pregnant moms will experience it. It’s actually a form of gum disease referred to as pregnancy gingivitis.
Severe gum disease has been linked to pre-term birth and pre-eclampsia…but most of the time, the mild pregnancy gingivitis won’t lead to this. However, it’s still very important to take care of your gums before and during pregnancy.
Brush and floss your teeth regularly. I love using a water flosser – it’s much easier to use, and from what I’ve read, it’s just as effective. I also love having a Sonicare toothbrush.
Regular dental cleanings can help keep your gums in tip-top shape as well. If you feel like something is wrong with your gums, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor. I actually started noticing that my lower gums were looking weird shortly before I got pregnant…and after I had the deep cleaning done, there was such a difference.
Get Enough Calcium
It’s always important to get enough calcium – regardless of if you are pregnant or not. It’s crucial for teeth/bone health and development. However, during pregnancy, it’s important to make sure you are getting enough. Calcium is essential to the health and development of your teeth, and since proper dental health is essential during pregnancy, you need to make sure you are getting enough
Avoid Elective procedures
If you don’t have to get a procedure done, don’t. I sometimes think that some of the issues I had with Oliver were due to some of the procedures I had done. It seemed like he stopped moving around as much immediately after I got dental work done. But it may have been a coincidence.
However, I think it’s worth it to avoid procedures that can be safely avoided until after pregnancy. And, if you think need to get your wisdom teeth, do it BEFORE you get pregnant. I wish I could go back and slap some sense into myself a few years ago.
But sometimes you can’t avoid getting work done, and it can be done safely.
Dental Work During Second Trimester
From everything I’ve read, the best time to get dental work is during the second trimester. By the third trimester, it can become very difficult to lay on your back for long periods of time (and it’s generally recommended to avoid laying on your back during pregnancy).
Some people recommend avoiding dental work (especially x-rays) during the first trimester, since this is a time where babies are developing some of their most crucial organs and body functions. However, I was unable to find any strong studies supporting this one or another. I do think it’s wise though, simply because you just never know.
Xrays During Pregnancy
In general, X-rays should be avoided during pregnancy if possible. This isn’t always possible though, so make sure your dentist takes extra care when taking Xrays. According to the American College of Radiology, “no single diagnostic X-ray has a radiation dose significant enough to cause adverse effects in a developing embryo or fetus.” (source)
Medications and Aneshtesia During Pregnancy
One of the hardest parts about getting dental work done during my pregnancy was my lack of options for pain meds and for pain control during the procedure. Getting my wisdom teeth out was literally torture. Not only was I still able to feel some pain, but the crunching and twisting was almost too much for me to handle.
They couldn’t put me under, nor was I able to have laughing gas. All I had was a little bit of Lidocaine…which didn’t cut it. Lidocaine does pass through the placenta, but it generally accepted for use during pregnancy.
Afterward, most of the medications were off limits, but I was able to take Tylenol, which did help. But if you are thinking you’ll be taking some heavier duty pain meds (and you might wish you could), think again.
Pregnant Friendly Dentist
After I got all of my dental work done, I actually found out the dentist did a few things that he probably shouldn’t have while I was pregnant (such as remove amalgam fillings). He also didn’t seem to really know much about which medications I could take, and he encouraged some procedures that could have waited.
Katie is a Colorado-native, BYU graduated, and most importantly, wife to one and mother to three beautiful boys. She is passionate about sharing her experiences with others – especially about pregnancy, breastfeeding, cooking, and crafts. She is currently training to be a Certified Lactation Educator. She loves spending time with her family and helping others find joy in family life.