By Dr. Amanda Tavoularis
Dental care is important to all of us; unfortunately, for pregnant and nursing women, there are tons of myths out there on what you can or can’t do. At this stressful and wonderful time in their lives, the last thing women need to worry about is bad information causing them or their baby harm. Women shouldn’t have to worry about whether their approach to routine dental care is correct.
As a dentist for more than 20 years, I’ve worked with countless women in the very same position and help cut through all the myths. Here are three I’ve heard over and over again, along with where the truth lies in each one.
Dental Care is Not Important
Many women believe the myth that their dental care is not important or is not as important as other parts of their health. This is incorrect, as dental health has a direct impact on the rest of the body. Leaving oral health unchecked can cause issues all throughout one’s body. This is always important, but becomes even more so when pregnant or nursing.
Take gum disease as an example. This is a fairly common infection, and is even more common in pregnant and nursing women due to their elevated hormone levels. Gum disease has actually been linked to premature birth. That’s a very serious issue that can stem from not taking care of one’s mouth properly.
Gum disease is just one issue, there are many more that can cause problems throughout the body. That’s why it’s so important to take care of one’s mouth; especially so when pregnant or nursing because the child relies on mom for nutrients.
Medications, X-rays, and Procedures Are Dangerous
One very common myth is myriad of items used at the dentist are dangerous for pregnant and nursing women. While it certainly is a valid concern, as some medications might be dangerous, it’s unfair to lump everything in one category. Most medications, procedures, and even X-rays are perfectly safe.
Medications, for example, are often safe for pregnant or nursing mothers. It does depend on the medication, though, so women should always discuss their situation with their dentist. The same goes for many operations and procedures. In many cases, it’s actually more dangerous to put off having them as it can allow the infection to spread. If a dentist recommends treatment, then it’s probably a good idea to follow that advice.
X-rays are another big point of contention for women, and for good reason, as they do deal with radiation. That radiation, however, is very low-level and has been shown to not cause any harm to pregnant women. If you’re still concerned, talk to your dentist. Many times, X-rays can be postponed until after your pregnancy.
The Risks Disappear After Giving Birth
Many women believe that all the risks above simply go away after birth, but, unfortunately, that’s not true. Women are still at an increased risk for a bunch of different dental issues even after giving birth.
For starters, hormone levels are still out of whack and not likely to be back to normal for a while after giving birth. This is what elevates your risk during pregnancy, so it makes sense that it extends afterward as well. Many women also experience bone loss during nursing or may even begin to grind their teeth. Both of these can further contribute to dental issues.
It’s also important to simply keep up with a normal dental routine for brushing and flossing. These are important for everyone, but extra important for nursing or pregnant women. Slacking on everyday habits is the biggest cause of preventable dental issues.
Taking Care Of Your Dental Health
Dental health is important. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, reach out to your dentist. They are there to help along your journey to a healthy mouth. Remember, keeping your mouth healthy is an important step to overall body health.
Submitted article by Dr. Amanda Tavoularis of Seattle, Washington. She belongs to numerous dentistry networks including the American Dental Association, the Wellness Dentistry Network, and the team of emergency dentists at Dentibly. Amanda provides expertise on dental care for women and expecting mothers.