Dental Care and Pregnancy - savina dental clinics malta and gozo

Most expectant mothers are wary of visiting the dentist’s office because of their pregnancy. They imagine that dental procedures and medication can harm the unborn baby. Nothing could be further from the truth. Visiting a dentist’s office during pregnancy is safe.

Besides, pregnancy hormones may cause several dental issues, which one can only address by consulting a dentist. Common problems include cavities, gingivitis, tooth erosion, loose teeth, periodontal disease, and pregnancy tumours.

Proper dental care before, during, and after pregnancy can help you avoid or minimize the effects of these problems.

Before the pregnancy

Before pregnancy, you need to make an appointment with your dentist. The dentist can professionally clean your teeth, examine the gum tissue, and note any oral health issues. If you have an oral health problem, the dentist can treat it before getting pregnant.

Informing your dentist

Inform your dentist as soon as you realize you are pregnant. Your dentist would need to know the drugs (names and dosages) you’re taking. It could be prenatal vitamins, prescription medication, and any other medical advice from your doctor. With that information, your dentist can prescribe appropriate treatment.

If you are looking for a dentist Malta or dentist Gozo, you can book a dental appointment online at one of Savina Dental Clinics, or contact us directly on (+356) 2125 7253 (Skyparks Business Centre, Malta International Airport), or (+356) 2155 7323 (Dingli Street, Victoria, Gozo). For international patients, it is recommended to request a free e-consultation where we can discuss your individual case and treatment options.

Dental care during pregnancy

A dentist can carry out routine dental care and urgent procedures during pregnancy. For that, you’ll need to make regular visits to the dentist’s office. Hormonal changes during pregnancy tend to cause gum inflammation (gingivitis), resulting in bleeding on brushing and sometimes even spontaneous bleeding. Scalings can help with this as well as good home oral care.

How does pregnancy affect your dental health?

How does pregnancy affect your dental health - savina dental clinics malta

Pregnancy can expose you to the risk of increased oral health problems. During your pregnancy, your body goes through various changes, which affect your gums and teeth. Some of these changes include:

Hormonal changes

Pregnancy often results in a spike of hormones like estrogen and progesterone. An increase in these hormones can cause several oral health problems such as gingivitis.

Eating habits

During pregnancy, you’ll likely have cravings for certain foods, which you didn’t necessarily fancy before. Eating sweets and other sugary foods can lead to the development of cavities.

Reduced dental care

You’ll likely brush or floss less than before you got pregnant. That’s because you’re afraid of hurting your tender gums, or you’re just tired and may not feel up to it. Also, some women tend to feel nauseated when brushing and flossing.

As a result of these changes, you’ll experience an increased risk of specific dental issues such as the following:

Cavities (tooth decay or caries)

Cavities appear on the surface of your teeth as small, damaged areas. Certain habits you adopt during pregnancy may increase your likelihood of developing caries.

Gingivitis

Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums. It appears as redness and swelling and requires treatment to prevent it from progressing to gum disease. The risk of gingivitis increases as a result of pregnancy hormones. Proven statistics show that 75 per cent of all pregnant women have gingivitis.

The following are the symptoms of gingivitis:

  • Redness and swelling
  • Shiny gums
  • Tenderness in gums
  • Bleeding gums even with gentle brushing

Tooth erosion

Morning sickness causes vomiting, exposing your teeth to excessive stomach acid, which can harm the enamel. Tooth erosion mainly occurs during the first few months of pregnancy, when morning sickness and nausea are rampant but increases in likelihood if vomiting persists throughout the whole pregnancy, especially in conjunction with acid reflux which is another common pregnancy symptom.

Loose teeth

An increase in the hormones estrogen and progesterone levels during pregnancy can cause temporary loosening of the bones and tissues securing your teeth. Your teeth can feel loose as a result of that.

Periodontal disease

Untreated gingivitis often leads to periodontal disease, which manifests as an infection in the gums and loose teeth. Consequently, there could be the need to pull out some teeth.

Pregnancy tumours

Pregnancy tumours or pyogenic granuloma have nothing to do with cancer. They are lumps in the gums between teeth with a red and raw look. They can bleed and come as a result of too much plaque. After childbirth, the tumours can go away unassisted.

What are the signs and symptoms of dental problems during pregnancy?

When you notice any signs and symptoms of dental problems, the best you can do is call a dentist. The following are the common signs and symptoms of dental problems during pregnancy:

  • Toothache or other pain
  • Bad breath
  • Loose teeth
  • Receding gums
  • Swollen, tender, shiny, or bleeding gums
  • New spaces between teeth
  • Lumps on the gums or mouth sores

Common procedures that can be conducted during pregnancy

Common procedures that can be conducted during pregnancy - savina dental clinics malta and gozo

Just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean you can’t get dental services. The following are some of the standard dental procedures during pregnancy:

Dental X-Rays: The American Dental Association (ADA) argues that intra-oral dental x-rays are safe during pregnancy. However, you should inform the dental staff of your pregnancy to protect the unborn baby.

Tooth extractions: The ADA also states that dental extractions are safe during pregnancy.

Dental filling: If you have cavities, you can have them filled during the second trimester when you no longer feel nauseated. However, silver dental amalgams can be risky to the baby due to their mercury content.

Dental cleaning: Dental cleaning is vital during pregnancy. It is a safe procedure for preventing or treating pregnancy gingivitis.

What to eat for healthy teeth (your baby’s and yours)

As part of taking good care of your teeth, eat healthy foods. Avoid sugary snacks and sweets, which can cause tooth decay. Try to eat a healthy balanced diet to help your teeth grow more robust.

After around three months, your baby’s teeth start to grow. You need to have cheese, yoghurt, and other dairy products to supply your baby with enough calcium. With that, the baby can develop healthy teeth and bones.

Post-pregnancy care

Once you deliver the baby, book an appointment with your dentist to address any issues you may have postponed. If anything, having a comprehensive evaluation of your oral health is essential.

Is dental anaesthesia safe during pregnancy?

A 2015 study established that using local anaesthesia to treat dental issues is safe throughout the pregnancy. Therefore, there is no reason why you should postpone seeing the dentist over dental problems. What’s important is that you inform the dentist about your pregnancy.

Are dental medications safe while pregnant?

Local anaesthetic is safe to use during pregnancy. Antibiotics such as penicillin, amoxicillin, and clindamycin are safe to take during pregnancy. However, other medications such as most non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) which are commonly used to treat dental pain, are not.

Do not be afraid! Visiting the dentist during pregnancy is not risky, and it is highly encouraged. It helps keep you and your baby healthy and avoid the aggravation that toothache causes. So be sure to seek a dentist’s appointment over any issues you might have.

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Savina Clinic – Dental & Implantology Centres are friendly, state-of-the-art practices in Malta and Gozo dedicated to comprehensive quality dental care. Savina Dental is an innovative dental practice in Malta and prides itself on the high-quality customer service, low waiting room times, attention to detail and the advanced dental technology at its disposal.

Joseph Xuereb
Principal Dental Surgeon & Owner of Savina Dental Clinics, Dr Joseph Xuereb BChD (Hons), MFGDP(UK), MGDS RCS(Eng), FFGDP RCS(UK), FICD is a general dental practitioner with a special interest in Implant and Restorative Dentistry. Dr Joseph & the teams' full biographical information can be found here.