Is It Safe To Have Dental Work If You Are Pregnant?

Denton DentistThe physical changes experienced during pregnancy, especially the rise in hormone levels, can lead to damage of the teeth and gums. As a result, many expectant mothers find themselves in need of dental work during their pregnancy. Because expectant mothers must be concerned about the impact that their activities have on their babies, they worry about the safety of dental work performed while they are pregnant. Dr. Trinh Phan of Anew Dental says “Generally speaking, the risk associated with with having dental work done during pregnancy is nominal while the risks associated with forgoing needed dental care can pose serious risks.”

Preventative Dental Services During Pregnancy: Preventative dental services such as cleanings and exams are not only safe during pregnancy but also recommended by both dentists and doctors. One of the most common physical changes experienced during pregnancy is the inflammation of the gums caused by rising hormone levels. This swelling can cause the gums to bleed and create pockets that trap food particles. These can lead to the introduction of bacteria into the gums and the soft tissue around the teeth and can result in potentially dangerous infections that can impact the development of a baby. More serious cases of gum disease have been linked to premature birth. A professional cleaning by your dentist will help prevent these infections.

Restorative and Other Dental Work During Pregnancy: While most expectant mothers can easily appreciate the need for cleanings and exams, most remain justifiably concerned about the safety of other, more invasive dental procedures. For most, the understandable reaction is to put off non-emergency dental treatments such as fillings, root canals, crowns, and extractions until after birth. This may be understandable but it is not correct. Most dental procedures can be safely performed during pregnancy and are recommended because they greatly reduce the threat of potentially dangerous oral infection posed by untreated tooth decay. When practicable, dental work should be performed during the second trimester. During the first trimester, fetal organ development takes place so all non-emergency medical treatments, including dental work should be avoided during this time. By the third trimester, most women find it very uncomfortable and difficult to lay in a dental chair for the extended periods necessary to have dental procedures performed. Although dental treatments pose minimal risk to unborn babies, expectant mothers are advised to put off elective dental procedures, such as teeth whitening and cosmetic treatments, until after giving birth. Similarly, if you have any known pregnancy risks that indicate foregoing dental treatments, you should postpone any non-emergency dental procedures. As always, you should always seek the advise of your doctor before any dental procedures are performed or any medication is administered.

Dental Medications During Pregnancy: The safety of the medications used during dental procedures is not as clear as the safety of the procedures themselves. Conflicting conclusions regarding the possible adverse effects on developing babies from medications used during dental treatment have been reached by researchers. This lack of consensus should not discourage expectant mothers from receiving the dental care they need. The most commonly used dental anesthesia, Lidocaine, does not cross the placenta and thus does not have a negative impact on the developing baby. As always, as little anesthesia as needed to keep you comfortable should be administered. If you begin to experience pain during a procedure ask for additional anesthesia. Remember, the more comfortable you are the less stress you and your baby experience. More often than not, needed dental work will require antibiotics to treat infections associated with tooth decay. Category B antibiotics such as penicillin, clindamycin and amoxicillin are safe for use during pregnancy and can be prescribed before or after dental treatment. Again, always check with your doctor before taking any medications.

Dental X-rays During Pregnancy: Due to the risks of exposure to radiation, the best advise for expectant mothers is to avoid all x-rays while pregnant. This is no problem for the routine non-essential x-rays that are taken during annual exams and can be safely postponed until after giving birth. But sometimes an x-ray is essential for a dental treatment or dental emergency that cannot be put off until after the baby is born. In that event, expectant mothers should not worry too much as advances in x-ray technology, especially in digital x-radiography, have made x-rays much safer than in the past. After reviewing available research, the American College of Radiology has concluded that the radiation exposure associated with a diagnostic dental x-ray is too little to cause adverse effects in a developing babies. Although he radiation dose is low, your dentist will still take every precaution to minimize exposure during your x-ray, including the use of a leaded apron to cover your chest and a leaded thyroid collar to cover your neck.

Let Your Dentist Know That You Are Pregnant: Whatever your reason for seeing your dentist, whether a simple check up or a more involved dental procedure, make sure your dentist knows that you are pregnant. While most dental procedures are safe during pregnancy, your dentist will take added precautions to make your treatments as safe as possible. Make sure your dentist knows the stage of your pregnancy as treatments should be avoided during the first trimester and second half of the third trimester which are the most critical periods in fetal growth and development. Also make sure your dentist knows the names and dosages of any prescription or non-prescription medications you are taking, including prenatal vitamins. This information may indicate a need for a modification of your dental treatment.


…and if you have a retainer sitting on the side of your bed, keep the cat away from it. See this CNN video.

While the physical changes experienced during pregnancy pose a threat to the health of your teeth and gums, you can minimize the damage. First, practice good home oral hygiene by brushing three times per day, flossing daily, and using a bacteria killing mouthwash. Second, because preventative dental care is more especially important when expecting, see your dentists for regular cleanings and exams during your pregnancy. Finally, most restorative dental work, like fillings and root canals, are safe during pregnancy so do not put off dental work recommended by your dentist just because you are pregnant.


By: Dr. Trinh Pham

6 Tips To Help Keep Your Teeth and Gums Healthy During Pregnancy

As all mothers know, and all expectant mothers soon learn, pregnancy is an extraordinarily busy time. The demands of pregnancy make it impossible to find time for all of the things that should be done. Among the things that are simply too important to neglect or postpone is proper dental care. In recent years, research has confirmed what dentists have long known: That good overall health is closely linked to good dental health. This is especially true for expecting mothers who need to protect not only their own health but also the health of their unborn baby. Here are some tips that will help the expecting mother protect her teeth and gums during pregnancy.

Tip #1: See Your Dentist Regularly During Pregnancy:
Both the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Dental Association recommend that expecting mothers have dental exams and preventative dental care before and during pregnancy. Dental care is essential when expecting because the physical changes a woman’s body experiences during pregnancy can lead to damage of both the teeth and the gums. The rising hormone levels associated with pregnancy can lead to the swelling and irritation of the gums, a condition commonly known as “pregnancy gingivitis.” This inflammation can cause bleeding gums and trap food particles, both of which can cause or worsen gum disease. In severe cases, gum disease has been linked to premature birth. A regular visit to a dentist for routine dental care, including cleanings, will prevent pregnancy gingivitus and other potentially dangerous oral infections.
Tip #2: Eat a Healthy Diet
A healthy diet is easy to recommended but hard to maintain. Your doctor will give you detailed instructions on eating a healthy diet during pregnancy but you should also ask your dentist for advise on foods that will help you maintain healthy teeth and gums. One of the most important nutrients for strong, healthy teeth is calcium. Milk and other dairy products are a very good source for calcium. During pregnancy, yogurt and cheeses are good choices from the dairy group because they supply calcium without adding too many calories. Vitamin C is one of the most crucial nutrients for maintaining healthy gums. Fresh fruits and vegetables are the best source for vitamin C but, if you cannot get enough enough servings, fruit juices and vitamin supplements are a viable alternative. As always, the urge to constantly snack should be resisted. If you do need a snack, choose one that is nutritious for you and your baby, like fresh fruits and vegetables or healthy dairy products.
Tip 3: Brush Your Teeth Three Times Per Day:
As always, the most important tool in maintaining healthy teeth is the toothbrush. Regularly brushing your teeth three times per day will go a long way in ensuring good oral health. This is especially important during pregnancy when physical changes, particularly changing hormone levels, make the teeth and gums more susceptible to damage by bacteria. For some women, brushing with an antibacterial toothpaste is recommended. Ask your dentist for advise on the best toothpaste for your situation. If you experience sensitive gums during pregnancy, an extra soft toothbrush can help minimize the discomfort and allow you to maintain your brushing routine.
Tip #4: Keep Flossing:
The second cornerstone of good home dental hygiene is flossing – a simple but very effective means to preventing tooth decay and gum disease. The flossing habit is even more important during pregnancy when fluctuations in hormone levels often leads to inflammation of the gums. This swelling creates pockets in the gums that can trap food particles and foster the growth of bacteria. Flossing helps prevent the growth of bacteria by dislodging food and other materials from between the teeth and along the gum line.
Tip #5: Use A Mouthwash to Fight Bacteria in the Mouth
Your dentist can recommend a mouthwash that will not only make you feel fresh but also help prevent the gum disease that can accompany pregnancy. There are many safe and effective mouthwash products that will fight the growth of bacteria in the mouth and help prevent oral infections and gum disease. In cases where gum disease is present or threatening, your dentist may recommend a prescription strength anti-bacterial mouthwash.
Tip #6: Don’t Put Off Necessary Dental Work
Many expectant mothers are worried about the potential adverse affects of dental work other than cleanings may have on their babies. Non-emergency dental treatments such as fillings, root canals, and extractions can be safely performed during pregnancy and are recommended because they help reduce the chance of potentially dangerous oral infection. If you need non-emergency dental work during pregnancy, the second trimester is the best time to have it done. Because fetal organ development takes place during the first trimester, non-emergency procedures should be postponed, if possible. During the third trimester, you may find it very uncomfortable and difficult to sit in the dental chair for the time needed to complete dental procedures. As always, check with your doctor before undergoing any treatment of taking any medication. If you have any known risks linked to your pregnancy it may be best to postpone your dental treatment until after you deliver.
By: Dr. Trinh Pham

What if I Don’t Replace My Missing Tooth?

Many people wonder why it is so important to replace a missing tooth. This is especially true for people who are going to have a back tooth pulled and do not want to pay for a bridge or implant to replace a tooth that no one will see. The truth is, replacing the missing tooth now will actually be cheaper than waiting to repair the damage that the missing tooth will cause.

A missing tooth causes the teeth that surround it to lean and to drift out of place. Not only does this leave you with unsightly gaps between your teeth, it also makes it more difficult to maintain proper oral hygiene and leads to plaque build up in the gaps between your teeth. In time, this plaque build up can lead to tooth decay and tooth loss and/or serious gum disease. If you have a missing tooth, your dentist can explain your replacement options.

Why Do Fillings Have to Be Replaced
Many people wonder why a filling needs to be replaced if the tooth does not hurt. Like most everything else, fillings eventually wear out. As time passes, the constant pressure exerted on your filling from chewing, clenching, and/or grinding wears down your filling and causes small cracks. A regular dental check up from your dentist allows the early detection of problems with a filling.

If the edge of the filling is worn, the seal between the tooth and the filling fails and food particles and decay causing bacteria can get beneath the filling. Decay under a filling may cause an abscess and require a root canal or result in the loss of the tooth. Similarly, cracks in a filling can result in tooth decay under the filling and cause serious damage to the tooth. A regular check up with your dentist will let you replace a worn filling before it becomes a serious problem.

By: Trinh Pham

Foods to Avoid for a Whiter Smile

A bright, white smile is one of the things we most strongly associate with health and beauty. While a great smile is highly prized, it is hard to get and hard to maintain. Very few people have teeth that are naturally white so teeth bleaching and other methods of professional teeth whitening have become very popular. The results of teeth whiting can transform your appearance but keeping your teeth bright white requires good dental hygiene practices and avoiding foods and drinks that can stain your teeth. The following foods are some of the worst offenders and should be avoided if possible.

Red Wine: wineAlthough red wine may offer benefits to your overall health, it does not do much good for your teeth. The red color found in grapes is notorious for staining clothing and does the same thing to your teeth. To minimize the staining effect on your teeth, thoroughly rinse your mouth with water or brush your teeth after drinking red wine.

Black Coffee: As one of the most popular drinks in the world, untold millions of cups are consumed every day. Less popular is the beige teeth that can be caused by the dark pigment that gives coffee its distinct color. If you drink coffee, diluting the dark liquid with milk will reduce the staining risk. As with red wine, rinsing or brushing after drinking coffee will minimize the staining effect.

Dark-Colored Soft Drinks: The tooth decay associated with the high sugar and acid content of sodas is reason enough to avoid those drinks. When you add the teeth staining effect of dark-colored soft drinks, the case for abstaining from soft drinks becomes even stronger. If you must indulge, choose a light colored soda, like 7-Up or Sprite, and use a straw to minimize the drink’s contact with your teeth.

Berry Juice:berry Like other dark-colored drinks, berry juice, such as red grape juice and cranberry juice, can stain your teeth. If you drink juices, choose lighter colored juices like white grape juice or apple juice. And remember, juices have high sugar content so it is important to brush your teeth after drinking them.

Frozen Treats: Nothing is quite as refreshing as a frozen treat on a hot summer day, but colored ice pops can be very bad for teeth. As kids we all loved to eat the blue ice pop and show off the blue lips and tongue it created. The same pigments that color the tongue can also stain your teeth. Like sodas, frozen treats should be avoided entirely or, if that is not possible, consumed only occasionally. If you must, pick a light colored frozen treat.

Tomato Sauce: Rich in vitamins and flavor, tomato sauce is also rich in teeth staining red pigment. Everyone has experienced the staining power of even the smallest drop of tomato sauce on a shirt or sweater. Tomato sauce can do the same thing to your teeth. If you are like most people and lack the will power to eliminate tomato sauce from your diet, you should always rinse you mouth with water or brush your teeth after eating tomato sauce.

Soy Sauce: The foods of Asia are more popular than ever in America. Many Asian cuisines are attractive because they offer a healthy mix of vegetables and low fat cooking methods. But even the healthiest Asian foods can stain your teeth if they contain too much say sauce. While Asian food would not be the same without soy sauce, limit the amount of soy sauce you use on your food and skip the heavy soy sauce dips.

Berries: Dark colored berries, like blueberries and raspberries, are delicious and good for your diet. They are full of healthy antioxidants and other essential vitamins and minerals that lead to better health but they are also full of pigments that can lead to stained teeth. To avoid staining, you brush your teeth after eating dark-colored berries.

This list of tooth staining foods is not meant to be alarming and should not be taken as a call to stop eating your favorite foods. When eaten in moderation and with proper post meal dental hygiene, you can continue to enjoy your favorites and keep a bright, white smile.

By: Dr. Trinh Pham