General Dentistry |6 min read

Your Questions Answered About Dental Care During Pregnancy

You’re pregnant. Congratulations! You may have many questions about dental care during pregnancy, so I created this video to give gentle advice as you experience your pregnancy.

I know you have a lot of doctor’s visits with your obstetrician and so much to think about! Is it necessary to be vigilant about seeing a dentist while pregnant? YES! The health of your mouth is an essential part of a healthy pregnancy.

Reports show that some women fear that their fetus could be harmed by dental treatment. Actually, a lack of necessary treatment is more likely to cause harm to your developing baby.

I want to assure you that dental care during pregnancy is safe for both you and your baby. Please read on to understand just how important it is and learn some tips to consider while pregnant.

  • Hormonal changes experienced during pregnancy can cause swelling in your gums, bleeding gums, or other dental issues. It affects 60 to 75% of pregnant women. If left untreated, gingivitis (inflammation of your gums) can lead to a more severe infection in your gums and to the surrounding bone. Untreated periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss and bone loss.
  • A mother with active tooth decay can spread bacteria to her unborn child. Did you know that your baby’s teeth will begin developing just three months into your pregnancy?
  • Be sure you do not self-medicate to control pain during pregnancy. Pregnant women with dental pain may self-medicate inappropriately. Don’t take high doses or frequent doses of Tylenol for pain relief of dental infection. And certainly, do not take pain medication without speaking to your obstetrician/gynecologist.
  • Will acid from morning sickness or acid reflux harm my teeth? Morning sickness is tough on a pregnant woman’s teeth. Stomach acid eats away at tooth enamel. If morning sickness is causing vomiting, I suggest mixing a teaspoon of baking soda in 1 cup of water. Rinse your mouth with this mixture after vomiting. This will help neutralize the acid. It will help to protect the tooth enamel. After rinsing your mouth with the combination of baking soda and water, delay tooth brushing for about an hour because brushing will expose the teeth to the stomach acids. Acid reflux, which some women experience later in pregnancy, has the same effect on teeth.

Some questions I have been asked regarding dental care for expectant mothers include the following:

  1. Is it safe to get x-rays while pregnant? Dental x-rays with lead shielding are considered safe during pregnancy by the American Dental Association and by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Be sure that digital methods are used to take x-rays. Be sure protective lead aprons and thyroid collars are used. Even with lead apron precautions, it is best to wait for an x-ray until the second trimester unless necessary.
  2. What are pregnancy tumors in the mouth? The dental term is pyogenic granuloma. First, know that they are not malignant! They most often appear during the second trimester. They look a little like raspberries that form between the teeth. It occurs in approximately 5% of pregnancies. The “pregnancy tumors” usually regress after pregnancy without treatment.
  3. Does the fetus take calcium from its mother’s teeth? This is what many would refer to as “an old wive’s tale.” As mentioned before, during pregnancy many women experience hormonal gingivitis (inflammation and swelling of the gums), which causes the calcium loss in the teeth. The swollen gums collect bacteria which have acidic byproducts. This acid slowly burns the enamel and removes calcium in the process and ultimately can cause tooth decay. As mentioned before, morning sickness increases acidity too. So the fetus is not drawing calcium from the teeth. The presence of acid is the cause.
  4. How often should a pregnant woman see her dentist? It is best to see your dentist early in your pregnancy. Every three months is optimal during pregnancy and continue with this frequency until you are finished nursing. Why? The reason is that an increase in hormones can exaggerate how your gums react to plaque. Plaque leads to gingivitis. Frequent professional dental cleanings by your dental hygienist can minimize oral care difficulties during pregnancy. Your medical insurance (not dental insurance) may cover the cost of extra dental cleanings during pregnancy. In order to be as comfortable as possible while having dental treatment during pregnancy, ask your dentist and hygienist to keep your head at a higher level than your feet. If you sit in a semi-reclining position and frequently ask for a position change, you will likely be more comfortable. And, bring a small pillow to place under your right hip or turn slightly to the left as needed to avoid dizziness or nausea.
  5. It is difficult to brush my teeth. Do you have suggestions? Many women experience a stronger gag reflex during pregnancy. Some women feel brushing teeth is unpleasant. A bland toothpaste (with fluoride) may be necessary. And you can rinse your mouth with fluoridated non-alcoholic mouthwash.
  6. What do you suggest with regard to home care during pregnancy? I recommend a soft-bristled toothbrush especially for women who experience swelling, redness, or bleeding gums. Brush twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste. Floss daily because swelling can make it easier for bits of food to get stuck between teeth and behind the teeth. Be gentle while flossing because flossing can cause bleeding on already sensitive gums. It is also important to take in good sources of protein, calcium, and phosphorus for your baby’s developing bones, teeth, and gums. I recommend foods dense in nutrients such as legumes, vegetables particularly kale, and fruits such as blueberries. Learn more about eating nutrient-dense foods to get a lot of benefit for yourself and developing baby from every bite.
  7. Is it safe for a pregnant woman to have a root canal? Is it safe for a pregnant woman to have a tooth extracted? Yes!!! Delaying emergency treatment may result in more complex problems! Your oral health certainly can affect your baby’s health. It is far worse for you to have a serious infection during pregnancy. Local anesthetics for numbing areas in your mouth may be used during pregnancy. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists state that emergency treatment can be safely performed during pregnancy. The American Dental Association states that emergency care is safe at any stage during pregnancy.

I am happy to answer any questions you may have, whether you are a patient or not, if you send an email to doc@SilbermanDentalGroup.com. I offer consultations at no cost. If you live near Waldorf, Maryland, I invite you to schedule an appointment to see how our team and I give patients something to smile about! I look forward to welcoming you to The Silberman Dental Group.

20 comments on “Your Questions Answered About Dental Care During Pregnancy”
  1. Triparna Bhattacharya

    does mother’s dental plaque cause neonatal sepsis during pregnency?

    Reply
    1. Hello Triparna, You pose an interesting question. The main bacteria in plaque is Streptococcus Mutans. My understanding is that it can cross the placental barrier. Beyond that, I can’t speak intelligently on the subject of whether or not it creates a sepsis during the neonatal period. I would refer you to someone who is doing research in this area. I am a general dentist with practical clinical knowledge. Your question should be directed towards someone in academia, possibly at the National Institute of Health. Good Luck. Dr. Silberman

      Reply
  2. does pregnent mother’s dental plaque cause neonatal sepsis ?

    Reply
    1. Hello Triparna, You pose an interesting question. The main bacteria in plaque is Streptococcus Mutans. My understanding is that it can cross the placental barrier. Beyond that, I can’t speak intelligently on the subject of whether or not it creates a sepsis during the neonatal period. I would refer you to someone who is doing research in this area. I am a general dentist with practical clinical knowledge. Your question should be directed towards someone in academia, possibly at the National Institute of Health. Good Luck. Dr. Silberman

      Reply
      1. Julia Lee

        I have 5 residual root tooths that should have been pulled years ago, but I was unable to get dental treatment, I’m 5 weeks pregnant and before pregnancy a dentist told me I should pull the 5 roots cause are causing infection, will this harm my baby? I don’t think I can handle 5 extractions of residual root tooths, is there any home remedy to keep the infection under control for 9 months?

        Reply
        1. Hello Julia, The best thing to do for the baby is to have those root tips extracted. The issue is not the infection that they would cause you. It is the stress it puts your body under dealing with the infection and potential pain and swelling. Do yourself and your baby a favor and get those roots out. Take as little medication during pregnancy as you can. Good luck, Dr. Silberman

          Reply
  3. Remalyn Frugal

    I had a bad toothache that cause my gums and face swollen and I’m a 3 months pregnant..the dentist ask me to take out the teeth.does it safe for my baby to take that?does it safe for my baby for the anesthesia that they will inject to me for my tooth to take out??hoping for a quick answer for my questions..thanks

    Reply
    1. Hello Remalyn, It is safe to have teeth extracted while pregnant. The anesthetic used to get you numb will not affect the baby. The infection can cause both you and the baby stress, so the sooner you can receive treatment, the better. Good luck and have an easy delivery. Dr. Silberman

      Reply
  4. Kay

    Hello Dr Paul
    I have a very bad infection and my Dentist subscribed for me Curram 1000 antibiotics, is this meds safe to use during pregnancy. I’m 17 weeks pregnant.

    Reply
    1. Hello Kay, Yes, Curam is safe to take during pregnancy. It might be effective against gum issues but less effective against an abscessed tooth. It usually takes a little longer to be effective against an abscessed tooth. Another type of antibiotic, Clindamycin, is a better choice for an abscessed tooth. Neither is harmful to you or your baby. I wish you well, an easy pregnancy and delivery. Best of luck, Dr. Silberman

      Reply
  5. Britt

    Hi! I am 7 weeks pregnant and think my tooth is infected. I was going to have it pulled anyway prior to pregnancy. Now I feel
    Some pain during and after eating. Could this infection have caused harm to my baby yet? What should I do?

    Reply
    1. Hello Britt, If you were planning on having the tooth extracted prior to your pregnancy, there is no reason for you to wait now. After delivery, you won’t have much time to do anything other than take care of the baby. So the sooner you resolve this, the better. It is highly unlikely that the bacteria from the tooth infection would harm the baby. The issue is the stress caused by the infection. The stress to you can cause systemic issues that can impact the baby, so get this problem fixed before this precious bundle of joy arrives. Good luck, Dr. Silberman

      Reply
  6. Thanks for having this article, it helps a lot. It’s a well-written blog and it is very informative. Keep on blogging, looking forward to see more of your posts!

    Reply
    1. Thank you for your kind words. Dr. Silberman

      Reply
  7. Tilla

    I am 28 weeks pregnant with a fistula on my gum. My dentist has cleaned and irrigated the area and canals and the fistula is not healing. He’d like me to see an endodontist to see if there’s something they can do to treat this fistula.

    Prior to the fistula, at 10.5 weeks I had severe pain (absess I believe), and since it was a holiday weekend I wasn’t able to see my doctor. He put me in 3 days of amxocillan which helped to relieve the pain and I also took about 5-6 Tylenol over 4 days. I was in extreme pain but after seeing him the following week, I felt relief after he cleaned out the canal that was causing me pain.

    He would like the infection to clear prior to completing the root canal he started. Hoping the endodontist next week will be able to help too. My question is: will this fistula cause preterm delivery or any issues to the baby? Taking amox and some Tylenol, did that cause any issues? I feel I’m doing my best to treat this but I’m so worried to go into preterm labor and that the medication i used will cause issues.

    Thanks so much for your help. Love your blog!

    Reply
    1. Hello Tilla, There is some controversy in dentistry about the sequencing of the root canal treatment. Personally, I always do root canal treatment in one visit. I numb the tooth, open it up to flush out the infection, rinse and dry the inside of the tooth, and place the filling. In my opinion, the fistula will stay there until the canals are filled. The empty space in the tooth is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria (dark, warm, moist) and as such, bacteria are pumping out of the tooth into the area around the tooth that is creating the fistula. Once the bacterial source is eliminated and the canals are filled, the fistula will disappear. Neither the infection nor the medication will have an impact on your baby. The stress you are going through is potentially a greater risk to the baby than either the infection or the medication. So stay calm and get the treatment completed as soon as you can. Good luck, and thanks for your kind words about my blog! Dr. Silberman

      Reply
  8. Baby das

    Hi I’m 32 weeks pregnant..I have severe toothache and I think there is the tooth infection..my question is which antibiotics are safe during this time of pregnancy???

    Reply
    1. Hello Baby das, Most medications are not a complication for the baby once you are out of your first trimester, but not all. Most antibiotics are safe medication during pregnancy, but all medications should be cleared by your OB. The best antibiotic for tooth infection is Clindamycin. I usually prescribe 150mg three times a day for 10 days. Good luck and have an easy delivery. Dr. Silberman

      Reply
    2. Lauren Gray

      I’m 20 weeks pregnant and currently have a hole in my tooth. I have been to see the dentist who has booked me in for fillings and hygiene appointment but way into late Jan 2022. This last week I have developed a really could taste in my mouth that doesn’t go away no matter how much I brush or use mouthwash. It seems to be getting worse by the day and I think this may be due to a decaying tooth. It’s really unpleasant and I’m worried that if there is bacteria it can harm the baby. Should I been treated by my dentist as an emergency?

      Reply
      1. Hello Lauren, I am unclear as to what you mean by a “really could taste in my mouth”. It’s obviously a typo, but I can’t imagine what word you are trying to use instead of “could”. It would be unusual for a cavity to affect your sense of taste. That is more likely to be caused by a vitamin deficiency or a reflux issue. You could ask the dentist to be seen on an emergency basis to evaluate this issue separate from the decay problem. I would also suggest you ask the ob/gyn to treat you for systemic causes. You are not describing a toothache so waiting until the end of January should be okay. The bacteria from your tooth is not going to be harmful to the baby. Emotional or physical stress can cause more harm than any bacteria in your tooth. I hope that helps. Good luck and wishing you an easy delivery, Dr. Silberman

        Reply
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