Is it important to go to the dentist during your pregnancy? Absolutely.
Progesterone hormone levels are on the rise during pregnancy, which can cause your gums to have a weird response to plaque bacteria—a lot more plaque buildup than normal, says Chris Kammer, DDS, of Lifetime Family Dentistry, co-founder of the American Academy for Oral Systemic Health. This buildup can make your gums puffy and red, and may even cause bleeding when you brush and floss. 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 left untreated, plaque buildup and gum inflammation can cause a dental infection, which is particularly scary during pregnancy—some studies link a mom’s poor dental care to premature births and problems with baby’s development.
So it’s crucial to take extra care of your teeth at home and go for frequent dental visits. Follow the recommended schedule your dentist gives you for cleaning and exams (usually every six months), and prepare to come in more often if your dentist sees that your gums are trapping more food and bacteria than usual.
Any cavities and root canals can and should also be treated to reduce the risk of infection. “It’s better to take care of these procedures by the end of your second trimester, since you may have a harder time staying comfortable when you're farther along in your pregnancy,” Kammer says. As for veneers and other cosmetic procedures? Those should wait until after delivery. And although there haven’t been any risks identified with professional teeth whitening while pregnant, some dentists might prefer that their patients have it done after baby’s born.