Top 3 Dental Myths that Every Pregnant or Breastfeeding Woman Should Know
Oral care is important and something we all have to think about; and it only becomes more so when pregnant or breastfeeding. Women in these two categories should take extra care to watch their oral health as lapsing in it can lead to some serious consequences.
Unfortunately, the world of oral health is full of misinformation and dental myths. Many of which target women who are pregnant and nursing. I’ve been a dentist for over 20 years, and have worked hard to educate and inform women on how to better take care of their mouths.
Let’s look at 3 common myths that target pregnant and breastfeeding women, and discover the real truth behind them!
Dental Myth #1: Your dental care isn’t important
A very common myth I hear a lot is that dental care isn’t important, or at least as important as other types of health. This is simply misinformation, as your dental health is very important. It can actually cause problems in the rest of your body if neglected. Your oral health is an integral part of your overall health and well-being.
For example, gum disease is a very common oral issue that can cause serious complications in pregnant women. If left untreated, the bacteria that causes gum disease can spread throughout your body and down to your placenta and uterus. This has then been linked to premature birth which can be a very serious issue.
Gum disease has also been linked to things like diabetes and heart disease. Letting problems go unchecked in your mouth can lead to a myriad of other health problems all throughout your body. They can even make conditions you might already have worse.
Keep in mind these are just issues linked to a single ailment. Things like tooth decay, dental abscess, and other issues can also cause problems throughout your body. Your mouth can hide many serious issues that can cause you a great deal of pain and trauma.
That’s why it’s so important for pregnant and breastfeeding women to take their oral health seriously and not play into common dental myths. You want to keep your body healthy, and taking care of your mouth is part of that. Don’t believe that your mouth isn’t important. If you neglect it, you’ll feel the effects throughout your body in more ways than just your smile, and it could potentially negatively affect your child.
Dental Myth #2: X-Rays and Medications Are Not Allowed
Another big myth is that common dental processes like X-rays and being prescribed medications are not allowed while pregnant or breastfeeding and will harm your child. While this comes from a good place of caring, it’s not the whole truth. Things are a bit more complicated than being blanketed safe or not safe.
In terms of medications, many are safe to take while both pregnant or breastfeeding. For example, common antibiotics like penicillin or cephalosporin are considered safe to take. Antibiotics like this are often prescribed after dental work to stop infections, or to treat existing ones.
That said, there are classes of antibiotics and other drugs that are not safe to take. This is why it’s important to inform yourself on this topic. The best source for this type of information is your dentist. Talk openly and let them know about your situation. They’ll be sure to select medications that are safe for both you and your child.
X-Rays are another area that many women who are pregnant are a bit hesitant about. It does use radiation after all, and that looks scary on the surface. The truth is that X-rays are usually safe, and the dose of radiation you receive is extremely small. It is still advised to push off X-rays (until after your baby is born or after you are finished breastfeeding) if possible. But getting some done for a dental emergency is typically very safe. Your dentist will be able to evaluate your needs, and determine if and when X-rays are necessary.
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Dental Myth #3: You Can’t Undergo Dental Work While Pregnant Or Breastfeeding
The last dental myth that many women also believe is that dental work while pregnant or breastfeeding is a no go. This is dangerous to believe as it could cause you to put off dental work that needs to be done. As noted above, letting dental problems persist is dangerous, and usually far more so than simply getting the work done in the first place.
One of the biggest concerns when undergoing any sort of treatment is the sedatives used during treatment. Many women see this as potentially harmful to their child. The good news is that most dental sedatives are not any danger to you or your child.
Nitrous oxide, a very common sedative, for example, leaves your system very quickly. This means it has no effect for both pregnant women as well as those nursing. Most other sedatives follow suit, and are out of your body quickly. It’s also important to note that for nursing mothers sedatives won’t affect milk supply. Babies will be able to feed shortly after the procedure.
There are other types of sedatives, such conscious sedation, often delivered by IV and used for more serious work like root canals. These are often also okay. The length they remain in your body is short enough to not cause any issues. The sedatives don’t transfer to your child or your milk supply.
There may also be some concern, especially for pregnant women, that undergoing dental procedure might be bad for their body or too stressful for their unborn baby. The fact is that many women have undergone dental procedure during their pregnancies and gone on to deliver healthy babies. In some cases, waiting to perform the procedure can actually be more dangerous as it gives time for the disease to spread.
Maintaining Your Oral Health
At the end of the day, it’s important to maintain your oral health while pregnant or breastfeeding. Staying informed is half the battle and it’s important not to take everything at face value. There are a lot of dental myths out there that can be very bad for your health. When in doubt, always ask your dentist, they’ll help keep you on track to a healthy, happy mouth.
Dr. Amanda Tavoularis has been committed to excellent dentistry for over 20 years. She studied at the University of Washington School of Dentistry and has gone on to complete over 200 hours of study at the prestigious Kois Center located in Seattle. She belongs to numerous dentistry networks including the American Dental Association and the Wellness Dentistry Network. With being a female dentist on the Dentably team, Dr. Amanda can provide her expertise for dental care for women as well as expecting mothers. She has a son of her own and is committed to providing the most accurate information possible for patients.