Have you ever wondered whether it’s safe for pregnant women to receive oral health treatment, or avoided going to the dentist because you feared for the health of your unborn child?
It’s important that pregnant women take good care of their oral health; furthermore, if they do have any gum or teeth problems, the decision on whether to treat it or delay treatment until after delivery should be made by a doctor.
According to Dr Chey Sochenda, Team Leader Dentist at Pachem Dental Clinic, Kampuchea Krom Branch, some oral treatments are allowed for pregnant women, while the others are not, as they can affect fetal health.
The majority of pregnant women don’t seek oral health care services, and in fact lack knowledge on how to take care of their oral health either before or during pregnancy, he said.
“Pregnant women tend to assume that if they receive oral health treatment, it will negatively affect their child. So they are hesitant to consult with dentists. Not only is this wrong, but poor oral hygiene will negatively affect their own oral health,” Dr Sochenda said.
Moms-to-be who feel they may be in need of treatment should consult a qualified dentist in detail about their oral health condition and discuss possible solutions and treatments, Dr Sochenda said.
When it comes to oral health care during pregnancy there are three main points to consider, according to Dr Sochenda: types of dental treatment; dental medications; and the importance of taking good care of teeth and gums.
Dental treatments for pregnant women: After a check of the teeth, dentists will provide pregnant women with the best treatment available that can keep both mom and fetus healthy. Some treatments are not recommended during this period.
X-ray is not recommended for use as a diagnostic tool with pregnant women. In cases where they are suffering extreme mouth pain, dentists may use an X-ray to get a clear diagnosis, but must ensure lead aprons and other protective clothing is used. The protective clothing should cover as much of the woman’s body as possible, particularly the abdomen.
Some treatments such as tooth filling or restoration, tooth extraction, and simple scaling are safe for pregnant women. Dentists may use novocaine or lidocaine, but injected general anesthesia should be avoided. The best time for pregnant women to receive dental treatment is from week 13 to week 27, approximately overlapping with the second trimester.
Dental medications: Not all medicines used by the general population are safe for pregnant women.
Local anesthesia: Novocaine and lidocaine are considered safe for mom and baby, but dentists advise that they should be used cautiously, as such medications can by passed to the placenta. Thus, it’s very important that dentists understand how much local anesthesia they can safely use on pregnant women.
Antibiotics: Dentists prescribe penicillin and cephalosporin, which are safe, but some moms-to-be have reactions to amoxicillin, which can be replaced by erythromycin. In cases of serious infection during pregnancy, metronidazole will often be prescribed.
Painkillers: Drugs containing acetaminophen (Tylenol, Paracetamol) are considered safe, while NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen (Advil) are not recommended as they can disrupt the growth of the fetus.
Caring for your teeth and gums: Pregnant women commonly experience inflammation and bleeding of the gums, known as gingivitis. This is a normal response to hormonal changes during pregnancy. It can be prevented or mitigated by brushing your teeth regularly with a soft and comfortable brush, flossing, and using mouth rinse.
Dr Sochenda added that oral care in general is less of a concern during pregnancy now due to increased access to high technology treatments for oral diseases. So pregnant women don’t need to wait until they deliver their baby to take care of their teeth and gums.
To minimize risks, he strongly suggests pregnant women consult with a qualified dental specialist before getting any kind of treatment. He advised oral health checkups once every six months to maintain healthy gums, teeth, and overall oral health.