Myths and facts: The pregnant woman’s guide to dental health

Should pregnant women visit the dentist? There’s a lot of misinformation out there about pregnancy and dental health, but we’ve got you covered. Here’s your guide to guide to navigating the myths and facts.

Myth: It’s none of the dentist’s business whether I’m pregnant.

Fact: It’s important for your dentist and hygienist to know that you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant. You may be at risk for certain dental conditions, and your pregnancy may limit the treatment options available. Always let your dental team know if you are or may be pregnant, how far along you are, and if your pregnancy is high-risk.

Myth: Being pregnant doesn’t affect your mouth.

Fact: Pregnant women are at greater risk for certain oral health conditions. These conditions include gum disease, also known as “pregnancy gingivitis,” and growths within the mouth, called “pregnancy tumors.” Both conditions are treatable, so make sure to visit your dentist.

Myth: Your oral health doesn’t affect your baby.

Fact: If you have moderate to severe gum disease, you may be at higher risk for delivering a pre-term, low-birth weight baby.

Myth: Pregnant women should avoid dental work.

Fact: Everyone — and especially pregnant women — should visit the dentist. If you’re pregnant, you face a higher risk for gum disease, so make sure to visit your dentist for regular cleanings, exams and any other treatment needed. Skimping on dental care could affect your pregnancy, as well as your dental health. Untreated gum disease may be linked to pre-term and low-weight birth.

What about anesthesia? Some studies have found a relationship between anesthesia in the first trimester and early miscarriage. If you need treatment requiring anesthesia, your dentist may recommending postponing the procedure until the second trimester.

Myth: Pregnancy leaches calcium from your teeth.

Fact: The fetus does not take calcium from its mother’s teeth. This myth likely originated because pregnant women face a higher risk of tooth decay. Pregnancy is a critical time to consume calcium –the essential nutrient provides helps your growing fetus develop properly and lowers your own risk of osteoporosis (bone loss) later in life.

Myth: Never get a dental x-ray while pregnant.

Fact: Dental x-rays are now considered safe during pregnancy by the American Dental Association. X-rays can be essential in detecting serious problems, such as hidden decay, bone loss and inflamed tooth pulp. No research has found a link between dental x-rays and birth defects, although a 2004 study did find an increase in low birth weight among women who had dental x-rays while pregnant. If you have any concerns, talk to your dentist, who can help evaluate your case and decide whether x-rays can be postponed.

Myth: Morning sickness is unpleasant but harmless.

Fact: Repeated vomiting can cause serious damage to your teeth. Exposure to stomach acid dissolves tooth enamel, weakening your teeth’s defense against decay. If you suffer from morning sickness, talk to your dentist about ways to reduce the harm, such as using a mouthguard or rinsing with baking soda.

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Published: July 2016

The oral health information on this website is intended for educational purposes only. You should always consult a licensed dentist or other qualified health care professional for any questions concerning your oral health.

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