Dental Health in Pregnancy
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You should take extra care looking after your teeth and gums while you are pregnant, as hormonal changes mean that your gums will be softer than usual and more prone to infections and plaque. This can cause them to bleed and swell. Take care of your teeth and gums by brushing and flossing twice a day, and make sure you visit your dentist regularly. You may need to see a hygienist to clean your teeth and gums for you.
Is pregnancy damaging to teeth?
Contrary to popular belief, being pregnant doesn't cause damage to your teeth. Old wives' tales abound that pregnancy can cause women's teeth to loosen or fall out, due to pregnancy-related calcium deficiency. This rumour, you'll be relieved to hear, is nonsense; pregnancy causes no damage to your teeth at all. A healthy, balanced diet will provide you with all the calcium you need during pregnancy, so stock up on calcium rich foods such as dairy products, green leafy vegetables and fish such as sardines and salmon.
Gum disease and pregnancy
There is a growing body of evidence which suggests a link between gum disease, early labour and underweight babies. Evidence suggests that women who have gum disease have a higher chance of having premature and underweight babies. Experts believe this is because gum disease causes an increase in biological fluids which cause early labour. It's a good idea to visit your dentist before you get pregnant, so any gum disease can be treated, but if this isn't possible, visit your dentist for a check-up when you find out you're pregnant so gum disease can be treated early.
Every pregnant woman who is registered with the NHS is eligible for free dental treatment while they are pregnant, and for 12 months after the birth of their baby. You'll need to present your maternity exemption certificate (available from your midwife or doctor) to your dentist in order to get free treatment.
Are dental treatments safe during pregnancy?
Dental check-ups are perfectly safe during pregnancy, as are local anaesthetics. If you need antibiotics, your dentist can prescribe ones which are considered safe to take during pregnancy. The Department of Health recommends that women don't have amalgam fillings replaced while pregnant. X-rays are also generally not recommended during pregnancy, but if you need root canal surgery you will need to have an x-ray done. Abdominal shields however, can be used during x-rays, which shield your baby from the x-rays.