Taking Care of Your Teeth, and Your Totalismith
This morning I had an appointment with a new dentist after my crown broke about four months ago. (My ability to put off going to the dentist is pretty uncanny.) After feeling a little sensitivity, I was nervous about a revisit from the all-too-familiar throbbing pain of a toothache and decided it was time to get the tooth taken care of.
It turns out I was right. It was exactly time to get it taken care of. Did you know that your second trimester is the ideal time to make a visit to your dentist for non-emergency work? It’s best not to take any risks during the first trimester when your baby’s fragile organs are forming, and in the third trimester there’s fear of sending you into labor—not to mention the problem of laying on your back for a prolonged amount of time.
Have gum sensitivity or a tooth needing attention? Here are a few other things I learned about prenatal dental visits and tooth-care from today’s appointment:
- If you have a tooth requiring treatment, make an appointment during your second trimester or wait until after delivery.
- If you’re considering an elective procedure like tooth whitening, wait until after delivery.
- If you require a diagnostic x-ray, ask to double-up the protective aprons: one over your belly, and one over you.*
- Pre-appointment, ask your doctor what kind of local anesthetic she thinks is best. Typically, anesthetics with epinephrine should be avoided: it has properties that increase blood pressure, speed your heart rate and can decrease blood flow to your baby. (A potential bonus here is that your anesthetic’s duration will be shorter, so your dentist should work a little quicker.)
- It’s best to go easy on anesthetics (though not necessarily anesthetic-free), if you can handle it. Ask for more numbing as necessary: Being comfortable puts less stress on your baby.
- Don’t skip a regular cleaning just because you’re pregnant. Periodontal or gum examinations are important because hormonal changes can put pregnant woman at risk for periodontal disease and pregnancy gingivitis. Contact your doctor if you notice increased tenderness, swelling or bleeding in your gums.
- Keep up good oral hygiene practices during pregnancy, and eat a healthy diet with good sources of calcium and vitamin D. And less sugar equals less cavities—at least that’s the idea.
- If your procedure requires a follow-up antibiotic, ask for one labeled category B for safety in pregnancy like penicillin, amoxicillin, and clindamycin. Don’t take tetracycline which can cause discoloration of your baby’s teeth. As a precaution, run any and all prescribed drugs by your doctor before filling prescriptions.
Rather than polish me off with a new crown, my dentist opted to re-fill the tooth’s cavity and build up the tooth temporarily. He wants to finish the rest after the baby is delivered an/or I’m finished breastfeeding. And, I’m happy to report that I like my new dentist. Wish I could say the same for my doctor, but I’m still working on that.
*Today my hygientist said you’re exposed to more radiation when in the sun than when a dental x-ray is performed. And according to the American College of Radiation, no single diagnostic x-ray has a radiation dose strong enough to cause adverse affects in a growing embryo or fetus. But don’t take their/my word for it. Do your research.
Straight from Doctor Mom: 27 Health Pregnancy Tips from Mom Doctors!