Pregnancy is full of dos and don'ts, to the point that sometimes it feels like you're bound to be breaking a rule you didn't even know about at any given time of the day. Over time most of us learn which rules we're willing to bend (I can never seem to give up feta cheese, but listeria hasn't caught me yet) and which ones are important enough to adhere to. Medical professionals agree that your dental health can directly affect your baby, therefore oral exams are something to take seriously. So when should you see a dentist during pregnancy?
According to Dr. Gregory McGee of Rio Grande Oral Surgery and Dental Implant Center, routine dental care is encouraged during the second and third trimesters. In an interview with Romper, McGee says caution should be taken in the first trimester, but in the case of an emergency, treatment can still be done. If you've had your next exam on the calendar for months, the rescheduling can seem inconvenient, but it's best to be on the safe side during those first 13 weeks as they are so formative for your developing baby.
When asked if there is any dental work that can't be done on a pregnant woman during her second and third trimesters, McGee tells Romper that it is generally best practice to avoid the use of radiation throughout the entirety of pregnancy. He adds that cleanings, fillings, X-rays (radiographs), and tooth extractions, however, can all be done safely.
OK, no one is exactly thrilled about the possibility of further dental care. But knowing why it's important can help color our perspective. According to the American Pregnancy Association, dental care during pregnancy is imperative because of the rise in hormones that can cause gums to swell, bleed, and trap excess food. These factors may contribute to oral infections such as gum disease, which has been linked to preterm birth.
If you're pregnant, it's important to schedule at least one dental exam, preferably during your second trimester, but definitely out of your first. If you need some extra incentive, your dentist doesn't have to know if you treat yourself to an ice cream cone afterward. Maybe even with a side of pickle?