Myth vs. Fact: Pregnant Women and Dental Care

Posted on May 16, 2017 in General oral health

The list of “dos and don'ts” for pregnant women is long – and sometimes contradictory. For example, you may have heard that pregnant women should postpone any dental work until after the baby arrives, but waiting to get treatment for dental issues can actually cause more damage. Here's the truth behind that myth and three others. 

Myth: Pregnant women should avoid dental work. 

Fact: It's very important for expecting mothers to get dental work taken care of – lingering dental infections can harm the health of both the baby and the mother. Dentists usually recommend the second trimester for pregnant women who need work requiring topical or local anesthetics. Expecting mothers should still contact the dentist when experiencing oral health problems, regardless of the trimester.

Myth: A pregnant woman's oral health has nothing to do with her baby's overall health.

Fact: Some evidence shows that women with generalized moderate-to-severe periodontal disease may be at higher risk for delivering pre-term, low-birth weight babies. Because of increased hormones, it's also common for pregnant women to develop “pregnancy gingivitis,” an inflammation of the gums and surrounding tissues characterized by redness, swelling, tenderness and bleeding. Professional cleanings will help keep conditions like this in check, which is why Delta Dental's Enhanced Benefits program covers additional cleanings for pregnant members.1

Myth: Pregnant women should not have dental X-rays taken.

Fact: Because the amount of radiation in dental X-rays is extremely low, it's fine to take dental X-rays when necessary to help identify potentially harmful dental issues that need immediate treatment. Although the radiation is minimal, the dentist will take precautions to make sure the pregnant woman is properly covered with a lead apron and collar.

Myth: Morning sickness isn't any fun but it doesn't actually do any harm.

Fact: Over time, exposure to stomach acid from repeated vomiting can dissolve tooth enamel. Pregnant women who suffer from extreme morning sickness should discuss their symptoms with their dentist, who may offer a solution to lessen harmful effects on tooth enamel, such as rinsing with baking soda to neutralize the acid.1