Every now and then I hear one of these pearls of wisdom I can’t interpret one way or the other, and I usually just nod and smile anyway. I added a new one to this list the other day when I heard an expectant mother tell me that she had a horrible toothache but couldn’t do anything about it because it isn’t safe to get dental care while you are pregnant. I didn’t know how to feel about this. On one hand, I knew the dangers of improper dental care. On the other, I had no idea if there were any serious consequences for fetuses associated with dental care, analgesics, x-rays or dental materials. Which was the way to go? Is it safe to keep up with your dental care while pregnant, or should you just keep up with your Tylenol and hope there is an appointment available immediately after the birth?

Dental hygiene has implications far beyond just a person’s oral health. If there are infections or other problems present in the mouth they can quickly transfer to other parts of the body and lead to serious problems, including heart disease, kidney damage, and digestive issues. When it comes to proper dental care, everyone should undergo regular cleanings and prompt treatment of any damage, decay or other problems that arise. This will help protect the body from serious damage that can be caused by oral health problems.

Many expectant mothers are extremely concerned at the potential damage to their babies they feel may be caused by the tools and procedures related to dental care. Studies have indicated, however, that the opposite is actually true. A pregnant woman should be even more vigilant about her dental care than prior to her pregnancy. Any oral health problems can be transferred to the baby through both the mother’s blood system and through swallowing traces of the infection. If properly notified of the pregnancy, the dentist can take measures to protect both mother and baby. Even x-rays can be administered safely with proper protection. Local analgesics are recommended as opposed to general anesthesia, but this is the only modification that will need to be made.

Source: Wrzosek, Tanya, Einarson, Adrienne. Dental care during pregnancy, Canadian Family Physician, June 2009, Volume 55, Issue 6, pp 585-599.

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