A patient rang our practice recently querying some problems about their wisdom teeth but having heard that you shouldn’t see a dentist while you are pregnant. This is a common story for us so it’s time to bust the myth.
- When you are pregnant you shouldn’t see a dentist – wrong – overall health during pregnancy is essential – healthy mother healthy body. Your mouth is the first line of defense to infection in the body and the immune system hypes up during pregnancy. If your hygiene drops (not uncommon when you have a lot of issues going on while you are pregnant) your gums may become more red or bleed. Your dentist can continue regular cleans and hygiene and give advice on keeping things comfortable.
- My mother lost all her teeth because the baby took all her calcium. wrong – your body gets calcium from your diet and failing that from your bones. Your bones can be formed and reformed but your teeth grow once and then they are as hard as they will get. Usually what has happened is the person already had decay or problems not picked up before they found out they were pregnant. They then didn’t have dental care for the period of pregnancy and early childhood due to the business of motherhood. By the time they go to the dentist they are in pain, have multiple large cavities and may opt to extract some teeth.
So why should we go to a dentist if we don’t feel any problems?
The problem of dentistry and pregancy is related to risk assesment. Ideally, we would rather do nothing other than a check and clean during pregnancy and avoid X-rays (unfortunately X-rays may be the only way to detect some problems but usually we can leave for a few months). If a patient has some small cavities and we know about it we can try simple preventive measures to see that the teeth will last until the baby is born then fix them.
If decay is deep there is a chance of an abcess (an infected tooth). If you leave a tooth until it is abcessed then we have several concerns. Leaving the abcess means the mother carrying an infection and this can be a threat to the mother and child. Abscesses are treated by removing the tooth (an X-ray may be needed) or root canal treatment (many Xrays are needed) or antibiotics (what about the safety of the child?). By finding deep decay early we can dress the tooth and reduce the risk.
Basically waiting until you have problems puts you and your child at risk. If we know about the problems early we have less risk and more options. But that goes for everyone whether pregnant or not. I have one filling – but I go for a check and clean every 6 months, brush twice a day, floss every night.
Remember – there are no wrong choices in life – only consequences