Pregnancy can be a wonderful stage of life for expectant mothers and an essential time to maintain a healthy lifestyle and good oral health. It is essential to be aware that pregnant women can become more prone to dental problems due to the change in hormones, one of the most common problems being gingivitis (bleeding gums).
Gingivitis makes the gums become susceptible to bleeding and swelling. This is due to the increase in progesterone and oestrogen levels, making them more sensitive to the bacteria in plaque and also from an increased blood supply to the mouth. The importance of regular cleaning and visits to a dental hygienist are therefore a priority. Ensuring a good routine – brushing at least twice a day and where possible after every meal – and regular cleaning from a hygienist will help to control gingivitis and prevent caries (tooth decay).
If a filling is required during pregnancy, it should ideally be avoided until after birth, but if it is essential you should be aware that we here at Smile 360 will not give you amalgam fillings (more commonly known as silver fillings). These fillings contain a mixture of mercury with at least one other metal such as silver or tin. Amalgam has been the restorative method of choice for many years due to its ease of application, strength, durability, and its invaluable property of preventing bacteria growth. However, it has been proven to give off a neuro-toxin which can endanger you and your baby’s health and well being. For this reason mercury has been banned from some thermometers and classrooms and mercury amalgam fillings have been banned from use in several countries. At Smile 360, we run a completely amalgam free practice. Other types of filling can be used such as a composite resin, which is made of plastic and fine glass particles, cast gold fillings made of gold alloy (gold mixed with other metals), gold foil made of gold, or ceramic fillings most commonly made of porcelain with a glass and acrylic component.
There are other dental problems which can occur in an expectant mother, such as benign nodules appearing on the gums which bleed when brushed, but this is luckily quite rare. They are usually both harmless and painless and can actually appear anywhere on your body during pregnancy. This problem will usually surface when you are suffering from gingivitis and should disappear after your baby is born. If necessary the nodules can be removed during pregnancy, however, any dental procedure during pregnancy should only be performed under caution. Pregnant women should also be advised not to lie back in the dental chair. This will cause blood to rush away from the placenta which in turn will decrease the oxygen to your baby.
The risks with x-rays during pregnancy are much less nowadays because of the advances in science and technology. A lead apron can be worn if an x-ray is required to protect yourself and your baby from radiation. However, at Smile 360, we do not recommend dental x-rays during pregnancy. Only in extreme circumstances, where dental treatment requiring an x-ray is needed, will you be advised to undergo one by us.
It is sensible to consult us upon discovering you are pregnant so that regular cleaning can be performed and advice can be given. We can also monitor your oral health during pregnancy to ensure your mouth is as healthy as possible, giving you one less thing to worry about!