Member Portal
Join Our Community!

Dental Work in Pregnancy

dental work in pregnancy dentist oral health postpartum preeclampsia pregnant preterm Jul 26, 2023
She Found Health
Dental Work in Pregnancy

Should I be getting dental work while pregnant? Is it okay to get x-rays? What about filling cavities? Today’s episode is a must listen, as Dr. Sarah Lea interviews dentists Dr. Brin MacMillan and Dr. Sabrina Ma, co-owners of South Island Dental, on the do's and don'ts of dental work in pregnancy! They discuss if and when to get dental care, which procedures you might want to avoid, how the changes brought on by pregnancy may affect your dental health, and share some facts about radiation that might surprise you…

What changes does a dentist see in pregnancy?

When it comes to pregnancy, estrogen and progesterone are running the show! But these hormonal surges can sometimes lead to gingivitis, which typically peaks around the eighth month of pregnancy. You may find your gums becoming sensitive and swollen, even at the slightest touch, and brushing or flossing might cause them to bleed, so we recommend using a gentle toothbrush. The increased vascularity in your gums can also affect the ligaments holding your teeth in place. When these ligaments become inflamed, your teeth may feel a bit loose and more sensitive to cold or hot foods. 

Should you go to the dentist if you’re pregnant?

Your oral health is an essential part of your overall well-being, and during pregnancy, it becomes even more crucial. Poor oral health can have consequences for both the birthing person and baby, so we recommend being proactive about dental health if you know you might be pregnant in the near future or are trying to conceive. Regular dental check-ups and cleanings can help identify and treat any potential issues early on, as most cavities tend to develop between teeth, where they may go unnoticed without X-rays, which brings us to the next question… 

Are X-rays okay in pregnancy? How much radiation is too much radiation?

Let's address the elephant in the room – X-rays. With X-rays, dentists are often not only looking for cavities, but also infections, abscesses, and bone loss. Though often an infection is uncovered because someone is in pain, that isn’t always the case which is why an X-ray may be necessary to uncover the root (no pun intended) of the problem. 

The guidelines from the regulatory college for dentistry in Canada state that you must have lead aprons as well as a thyroid collar when performing X-rays. If you don’t know that you’re pregnant but might be, taking the precaution of a thyroid collar is particularly essential as early pregnancy is when the major development of the baby is happening the thyroid plays a huge part in brain and nervous system development. New patient exams might also require some intraoral x-rays for which a thyroid collar and lead apron are used, but a panoramic x-ray necessitates a pan cape lead apron. Those x-rays aren’t taken very often (usually every five years) and patients can always decline them. 

Tune into the episode for some surprising facts about radiation in our daily lives! Spoiler alert: the radiation experienced at the dentist's office is not much more harmful than eating a banana!

What about fluoride? Is it safe?

Like with anything, if you ingest too much of it, it's not a good thing. But the benefits of fluoride, dependent on your oral health needs, might outweigh the risks, even in pregnancy. One thing to be aware of is in the first trimester when you do have some morning sickness, fluoride can make you more nauseous. Fluoride can come in two forms - one is a rinse which you swish around, but you do end up swallowing a bit of it even if you don't think you do. It's not to a toxic level, nothing to panic about, but it could stimulate some nausea. The other form is as a varnish, predominantly used on kids. It is painted on the teeth and may feel a bit gross and dirty, but it's good for your teeth and a good alternative to a wash!

What if I get a cavity? Should I wait to get it filled? And will I get more cavities in pregnancy?

The hormonal changes in pregnancy do not necessarily increase the likelihood of cavities. But other changes can. Your enamel can suffer if you aren’t intaking an adequate amount of calcium. If you're not ingesting enough calcium, the fetus takes it from the mama, which can prevent you from having enough minerals in your saliva, potentially causing an oral environment more prone to cavities, gingivitis, or periodontal disease. Morning sickness can also cause a drop in the pH levels in your mouth, creating a more favourable environment for cavities to form.

Tune in to learn even more about how dental care and dental hygiene relates to general health as well as your health in pregnancy. Studies show a correlation between periodontal disease, which is classified as gingivitis and periodontitis, and potential for low birth weight in your child, as well as premature birth, and preeclampsia in the birthing person as well. We think the correlation is absolutely fascinating, and think you will too! And always keep in mind - dental health is health!

If you'd like to learn more about South Island Dental, check-out their website! And here is a link to the recommended MI Paste, though we always encourage consulting with your healthcare provider before making a change to your health routine.

Subscribe to The Pregnancy to Parenthood Podcast Series! For the low, one-time cost of $47, get full access to over 40 informative episodes supporting you week by week, focused on the trimester and stage of pregnancy you are in. Tune in every week, or binge listen all at once and come back to the episodes you found most helpful as you move through pregnancy to parenthood!

Don't miss a word!

New topics, stories, and information delivered to your inbox weekly. 

Sign-up to receive our podcast and blog posts delivered to you directly via email!

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.