First Trimester

Why Is It Important To Go To The Dentist While I’m Pregnant?

I heard that pregnant women are more prone to dental infections and that they should go to the dentist regularly. Why is that?

You should get regular dental exams and preventive dental care during pregnancy because your progesterone hormone levels are on the rise, which can cause your gums to have a weird response to plaque bacteria — a lot more plaque buildup than normal. This buildup can make your gums puffy and red and may even make you bleed when you brush your teeth (yikes!). Taking extra care of your teeth at home and having frequent cleanings at your dentist’s office will help control plaque buildup and also control the inflammation in your gums. If inflammation and plaque buildup are left untreated, you can get a dental infection, which may be problematic during pregnancy because studies have shown that poor dental care has been linked to premature births and may interfere with baby’s development.

So how often should you go to the dentist? Well, we’re not talking every month, but you should still follow the recommended schedule your dentist gives you for cleanings and exams (usually every six months). Your dentist might also tell you to come in more often if he sees that your gums are trapping more food and bacteria than usual.

And if you’re wondering what kind of dental work is safe to have during pregnancy, know that cavities and root canals can and should be treated to reduce the risk of infection. It’s better to get these procedures done when you’re in your second trimester, since in your third trimester you may have a harder time staying comfortable during a long dental appointment. Getting veneers and other cosmetic procedures should wait until after delivery, and although there haven’t been any risks identified with professional teeth whitening while pregnant, I prefer my patients not risk anything.

Plus, more from The Bump:

Why is my mouth so dry?

Are swollen, bleeding gums a pregnancy symptom?

Swollen Gums During Pregnancy

By Chris Kammer, DDS, Lifetime Family Dentistry, and president of The American Academy for Oral Systemic Health