Oral Health and Pregnancy

A new consensus statement on the safety and importance of dental health care for pregnant women is available to the public in PDF format at www.mchoralhealth.org.  Just click on the Consensus Statement link for a PDF of this 24 page document.  The document was prepared as a result of a meeting of the Health Resources Services Administration, the American Dental Association (ADA) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in October, 2011.

The document states that dental care is both safe and important throughout pregnancy.  Emergency or acute care may be provided at any time during pregnancy.   Use of xrays, pain medication and local anesthesia, if necessary,  are all safe throughout pregnancy.  It is important to have the oral cavity checked for swollen or bleeding gums, dental decay, tooth-related pain, soft tissue lesions, signs of infection or trauma, problems eating, and history of vomiting since becoming pregnant.

The document advises that when a pregnant woman is being treated by her dentist her head should be elevated above her feet.  She should be in a semi-reclining position, as tolerated, and frequent position changes should be allowed.  A small pillow should be placed under the hip and she should turn slightly to the side to avoid dizziness or nausea from hypotension.

The document  includes a table of common drugs: their indications, contraindications and special considerations during pregnancy.  It also includes information on maintaining good oral health and how to take care of the new infant’s oral health.

A new study shows that pregnant women can safely undergo essential dental treatment and receive local anesthesia at 13 to 21 weeks’ gestation. Obstetricians generally consider dental care safe for pregnant women but supporting clinical trial evidence had been lacking. To address this issue, researchers at the U. of Minnesota School of Dentistry compared safety outcomes from a trial in which pregnant women received scaling and root planning (deep cleaning) and essential dental treatment. The women’s medical records were reviewed to monitor for adverse reactions. The results of the study showed that periodontal treatment, essential dental treatment and use of local anesthetics were not associated with an increased risk of adverse outcomes. So if you are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant, it’s a good time to visit my Long Island dental office for an examination and tooth cleaning.

During pregnancy, the body’s hormone levels rise considerably. Gingivitis, especially common during the second to eighth months of pregnancy, may cause red, puffy or tender gums that tend to bleed when brushed. This sensitivity is an exaggerated response to plaque and is caused by an increased level of progesterone in the system. We may recommend more frequent cleanings during the second trimester or early third trimester to help you avoid problems.

It’s especially important to maintain good oral health during pregnancy. Studies indicate that pregnant women who have severe periodontal (gum) disease may be at increased risk for pre-term delivery, which in turn increases the risk of having a low-birthweight baby.

If you are planning a pregnancy, be sure to schedule a dental checkup. If you are pregnant, don’t forget to continue your regular dental visits, and call our Long Island Dental office if you notice any changes in your mouth during your pregnancy.

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