Preparing for Pregnancy Dental Concerns
Proper dental care is important for everyone; the importance of concerns dental during pregnancy is even more significant, due to the delicate condition of an expectant mother. Pregnancy dental care should be given by a dental professional with the expertise in dealing with this specific matter, so the best care is given to the pregnant woman – without exposing the unborn child to any harm in the process.
This is Dentistry understands the intricacies involved with pregnancy dental concerns. Expectant mothers need to have the best dental care possible to ensure that no harm would come to her and to her unborn child; studies have shown that pregnancy dental problems can lead not only to discomfort for the pregnant woman, but also to health issues concerning the child in her womb.
Do you want to take better care of your dental health during pregnancy? You can quickly find a dentist in your local area by going to the TID Find a Dentist Page!
Dental Care During Pregnancy
A pregnant woman should inform her dentist immediately of her condition. This is because dental treatments are generally avoided for the duration of the pregnancy’s first trimester, as this is the period when both the expectant mother and the child in her womb are most susceptible to complications. The dentist should be informed of the pregnancy to protect the well-being of both the unborn child and the mother-to-be.
Dental checkups during pregnancy should be done on a regular basis, to make sure that the mother is free from any dental problems. The dental checkups will also help in preventing any existing pregnancy dental concerns from developing into more serious conditions, which can affect the health of both the child and the unborn child. Your dentist can also give you ideas on how to practice good oral hygiene during your pregnancy; this includes how to deal with the morning sickness that is experienced by most pregnant women, especially during the first few months of their pregnancy.
Pregnancy and dental care also includes being given tips on what food items to eat to contribute to good dental health; your dentist will most likely also give you a list of food items to avoid so you can deal with pregnancy and dental concerns on the best way possible. This is Dentistry is more than happy to give you the information you need to be able to enjoy all aspects of your pregnancy – in preparation for giving life to the precious child growing in your womb, without having to worry about pregnancy dental problems.
NHS Pregnancy – Dental Treatments
Dental health during pregnancy should be taken care of even more, as the risks associated with dental problems and gum diseases may lead to more serious complications. As such, regular visits to the dentist should be followed according to schedule, to achieve and maintain good dental health throughout the course of the pregnancy – and even beyond this period.
The NHS recognises the need for good dental health care during pregnancy, which is the reason why pregnancy dental care NHS treatments are free throughout the duration of pregnancy – and up to 12 months after the baby’s date of birth. To take advantage of the free dental treatments under the NHS during pregnancy, a valid prescription maternity exemption certificate (MatEx), or a MATB1 certificate (issued by your GP or midwife) will need to be signed and submitted.
The validity of the certificate starts from one month before the application is received, until 12 months after the expected date of birth of the baby; for those whose babies have already been born, the validity will then be until 12 months after the actual date of birth. If you were unable to apply for a maternity exemption certificate when you were still pregnant, you can still proceed with the application at any time within 12 months after your child is born, to still be entitled to get pregnancy dental care NHS treatments.
Dental treatment is not exactly inexpensive, so it is best to take advantage of the free pregnancy dental care NHS treatments that you entitled to, while you still can! Taking good care of your dental health will benefit both you and your baby, so these NHS pregnancy-dental treatments will provide great advantages in terms of achieving the best state for your teeth, and your overall dental health. Getting the necessary documents and forms in order will prove to be beneficial in the long run, especially since pregnancy exposes you to higher risks of developing gum problems, teeth sensitivity, and a host of other dental problems due to hormonal changes.
Find a Dentist for Pregnancy NHS Dental Treatments
There are several ways to find a dentist who can provide you with the pregnancy dental care NHS treatments for free in your local area. You can:
- Text the word “dentist” or “NHSGO”, and send it to 64746. You can expect to receive up to three text messages in response, with details of the NHS dentists that are located near your local area.
- Search for dentists who are located near your area by going to this link to the NHS website.
- Call NHS Direct on 0845 4647.
If you are unable to find a dentist who can provide you with free NHS dental care during pregnancy, or if you are not registered with a dentist, you can then get in touch with your local primary care trust – they are obliged to find a dentist who can provide pregnancy NHS dental treatments for you in your local area. However, in some cases, these dentists may not be the ones that are located nearest to your area.
You can find the number of your local primary care trust in the phone book, from your dentist, or by checking the NHS Choices website.
Teeth and Gum Care during Pregnancy
The hormonal changes that pregnant women experience during pregnancy may cause them to have gums that get swollen, or bleed, with the slightest pressure or touch. The bleeding and sore gums problems are most often caused by the build-up of plaque, which pregnant women are more highly susceptible to because of the changes in hormone levels during pregnancy. It is common for pregnant patients to suffer from gingivitis and other gum problems at any time during the course of their pregnancy. Blood flow increases by approximately 30-50% during pregnancy, making the gums more prone to bleeding and soreness. Sensitive teeth problems are also common in pregnant women, adding to the list of dental problems that pregnancy can increase the risk of.
The higher risks of developing gum problems, sensitive teeth, and other dental health problems during pregnancy makes it very important for pregnant women to take better care of their dental health during this time. Taking care of teeth and gums during pregnancy is essential to ensure that any serious complications will be prevented from developing, as these complications may make the pregnancy more difficult – or may result to health issues that can put the baby at risk.
What can do to ensure that you keep your teeth and gums in the best state possible as you go through your pregnancy? Here are some steps that you can follow to keep teeth and gums healthy during pregnancy – and even afterwards:
- Brush your teeth properly, and on a regular basis. Proper and regular tooth brushing will keep your teeth, and the whole oral cavity, clean and free from food particles that can cause the build-up of plaque-causing bacteria. If you are unsure of the proper way of brushing your teeth, you can ask your dentist for a demonstration so that you can make the most out of the tooth brushing activity.
- While it is important to brush your teeth thoroughly, you should also avoid using strokes that are too hard or too vigorous. A too-vigorous tooth brushing technique can contribute to the wearing down of the tooth enamel, and can also harm the sensitive gum tissues. The gums may get swollen or may bleed if teeth are brushed using very hard strokes, or may be injured when the tip of the toothbrush accidentally hits the gums when brushing vigorously. Choosing the right toothbrush with a head and bristles that fit your mouth (and your specific dental needs) will help you in effectively cleaning your teeth.
- Make it a point to use dental floss to remove food particles in between teeth and the gum line, which may not be effectively removed with tooth brushing alone. The use of dental floss will prevent bacteria and plaque from building up on teeth surfaces and on the gum line – a risk that gets higher when food bits are not removed on these surfaces after eating.
- Go to your dentist for regular dental checkups. Dental health care during pregnancy is even more important because of the higher risk of teeth and gum problems associated with pregnancy-related hormonal changes. Your dentist will be able to help you have optimum dental health during pregnancy, and will be able to treat dental problems at their earliest stages before any complications can have a chance to develop.
- Avoid food and beverages that are high in sugar. These sugary food and drinks can harm the teeth enamel, and also provide more chances for bacteria to multiply inside the mouth. In addition, food and drinks high in sugar can contribute to the development of gestational diabetes that can make the pregnancy more difficult. If you find yourself getting hungry in between meals, you can instead snack on vegetables and fruits that will provide better nutrition for you and your baby.
- Drink milk to ensure that you get enough calcium to keep your bones and teeth as strong as possible during pregnancy. The calcium from milk can also protect your teeth from the risks of dental problems which you may be more susceptible to during pregnancy.
- Use a mouthwash that does not contain alcohol, as mouthwash products with alcohol can be too strong for the teeth and gums. Mouthwashes that have alcohol can lead to a dry mouth, which in turn can encourage the multiplication of bacteria and bad breath problems. A minty mouthwash that does not contain alcohol can also help in removing the bad taste left by vomit caused by bouts of morning sickness.
- Stop smoking and using tobacco products. Smoking can cause a host of dental problems that affect the teeth, gums, and the throat; this habit can also be harmful to an unborn child.
- If you vomit as a result of morning sickness, clean your mouth by gargling with water afterwards to prevent the acid from the vomit from harming the teeth enamel. Gargling or drinking water can remove the foul taste in the mouth left by the vomit and the stomach acids that come with it. Even though it can be tempting to brush your teeth right after vomiting, it is best to wait around one hour before doing so; this is because the stomach acid from the vomit softens the teeth enamel – and brushing your teeth right after the acid comes into contact with your teeth can actually be more harmful.
- If you need to have old dental fillings to be replaced, ask your dentist if this can be done after your pregnancy. It is advised by the Department of Health that amalgam dental fillings should not be removed during pregnancy due to the toxicity risks involved to both the mother and the unborn child.
Food Safety during Pregnancy
The food and beverages you consume during pregnancy will affect not only your dental health, but also the overall health of you and your unborn child. Here is a list of some food items that you should avoid, or consume much less of, during pregnancy for safety purposes:
- Soft cheeses that are mould-ripened (such as Camembert or Brie), and those with a rind similar to Chevre (goat’s cheese). The moulds on these types of cheeses can cause infections in pregnant women, and can result to stillbirth, a miscarriage, or serious illnesses on the unborn child.
- Raw or unpasteurised milk, including unpasteurised milk from sheep or goat. If only raw milk is available for consumption, make sure that you boil it first before drinking it.
- Raw or undercooked meat or poultry. Make sure that the meat you consume is cooked thoroughly, with no traces of blood.
- Food and supplements that is high in Vitamin A, such as liver and multivitamins containing a high amount of Vitamin A, as too much consumption of this vitamin can be harmful to your unborn child.
- Caffeine consumption should be limited to about a maximum of 200 mg per day, as large amounts of caffeine in the system of a pregnant woman can lead to low birth weight, or even miscarriages. Too much caffeine consumption can also lead to teeth stains, especially when good oral health practises are not followed.
- Alcoholic beverages should be avoided during pregnancy, as alcohol consumption can seriously harm the unborn child; high alcohol consumption during pregnancy can also lead to development problems for the child.
Is it safe for a pregnant woman to go to the dentist?
Yes, it is absolutely safe – and essential – for pregnant women to go to the dentist. Good dental health care is even more important during pregnancy, and the dentist will be able to provide the necessary dental treatments and tips to ensure that the teeth and gums are taken care of during pregnancy. It is important to inform your dentist that you are pregnant when you go for a dental checkup, so that he or she can provide you with the safest dental treatment course that you need.
I am pregnant, and my gums bleed more easily now – what is the reason behind this?
During pregnancy, blood flow and blood pressure increases by as much as 30-50%; this causes gums to be more susceptible to bleeding and swelling with the slightest pressure. In addition, changes in hormone levels during pregnancy can contribute to higher risks of bacteria and plaque build-up, which in turn can cause bleeding gums. You can protect your gums (and your teeth) by brushing your teeth regularly and thoroughly, and by going to the dentist for regular dental checkups.
Are dental x-rays safe for pregnant women?
Your dentist will ask you if you are pregnant, or if you do not wish to have dental x-rays taken – the important thing is to make sure that your dentist knows that you are pregnant. Depending on the urgency of the need for the dental x-ray, your dentist may suggest that the dental x-ray be taken after your baby is born.
I have heard that getting dental treatments can affect the taste and quality of breast milk – is this true?
There is no known evidence that dental treatments can affect the taste and quality of breast milk – so you can have the dental treatment that you need without worrying that your baby may be consuming breast milk with a less than pleasant taste.
Will fluoride supplements be harmful to my unborn child?
No, fluoride supplements are not harmful to your unborn child as these supplements will not enter the placenta.
I need to have dental fillings – is it safe to have this dental treatment while I am still pregnant?
Your dentist will be able to determine the urgency of having a dental fillings treatment, based on how far along you are on your pregnancy. Generally speaking, mercury fillings are avoided or postponed until after the baby is born, to avoid any possibilities of health risks.
Is it safe to go for cosmetic dentistry treatments while pregnant?
It is best to wait until your baby is born before you go for cosmetic dentistry treatments. The only dental treatments that should be done during pregnancy are those that are urgent in nature; any other treatments that can be postponed until after the pregnancy should be postponed accordingly, as advised by the dentist. Postponing any non-essential or non-emergency dental treatments will help you avoid exposing yourself, and your unborn baby, to health risks.
I need to have non-emergency dental treatment, but I am on my third trimester. Should I wait until my baby is born to have this treatment?
Yes, it is advisable to wait until your baby is born before having the non-emergency dental treatment. This is to prevent having to go through the discomfort of lying on your back, and also to prevent the risk of premature labour.
Is it safe to have a root canal therapy while pregnant?
Yes, it is safe to have a root canal therapy during pregnancy. Dental x-rays (necessary for root canal therapy preparation) will not be harmful to the unborn child, since they will not be directed towards the abdomen or pelvis area; digital x-rays also provide an option for lower radiation levels. If your need for a root canal therapy is urgent, then your dentist will be able to go proceed with the treatment in the safest way possible; the root canal therapy may be greatly beneficial (for you and your unborn child) if you are at risk for developing a serious infection when this treatment is not done in the soonest possible time.
However, you can ask your dentist if the root canal therapy can be postponed until after your child is born, as the stress and/or discomfort of the treatment can affect you and your child’s well-being. Any non-essential and non-emergency treatments can be postponed until after you have given birth.
Are pregnant women entitled to free NHS Dental Care during pregnancy?
Yes, pregnant women are entitled to free pregnancy dental care under the NHS for the duration of the pregnancy (if the patient is already pregnant when affected for the dental treatment), until the first year after the baby is born. To be eligible for the pregnancy NHS dental treatments, as a patient you will be required to submit:
- a MATB1 Certificate (issued by a GP or a midwife), or
- a NHS prescription maternity exemption certificate (MatEx)
How can the maternity exemption certificate be obtained?
The maternity exemption certificate is available from your GP, midwife, or health advisor via form FW8. The form will need to be duly signed and completed by the midwife or GP. This certificate will have a validity starting from one month before the date that the application is received, until 12 months after the expected date of birth of the baby, or 12 months after the date of birth (if the baby has already been born).
Can a mother still get free dental NHS treatments after the child is born?
Yes, a mother is entitled to free NHS dental treatments even after the child is born. To get pregnancy dental care NHS treatments for up to 12 months after the baby’s date of birth, the following documents will need to be submitted:
- a Maternity Exemption (MatEx) certificate that is still valid (if the maternity exemption certificate is not applied for, and was not obtained, during the pregnancy – this can still be obtained at any time during the 12 months after the baby is born)
- the baby’s birth certificate, or
- a notification of birth form, which can be obtained from the midwife who delivered the baby
How can I find dentists who can provide NHS dental care during pregnancy in my local area?
You can search for dentists in your local area by going to the NHS website, where you can narrow down your search by providing a postcode, location, or practice name. You can also do the search through your mobile phone, by texting the word “dentist” or “NHSGO”, and sending it to 64746. Up to three text messages may be sent to you in response to this inquiry, with information regarding NHS dentists in your local area (or nearby). Calling NHS Direct on 0845 4647 will also provide you with the information you need to be able to locate dentists who can provide you with pregnancy NHS dental treatments.
Will free NHS dental treatment still be available for patients who have loss of pregnancy?
You will still be entitled to pregnancy NHS dental treatments even If your baby is stillborn, or if you lose your baby after the 24th week of pregnancy. However, this entitlement will need to be proven with the submission of a stillbirth certificate, which can be obtained from your local registrar of births, marriages, and deaths.
Aside from pregnancy dental treatments under the NHS, what other entitlements do I have?
While pregnant, and up to 12 months after your baby is born, you are entitled to get free NHS prescriptions – but this entitlement can only be enjoyed if you have a valid maternity exemption certificate (MatEx). You will need to complete the form FW8 (to be obtained from your GP or midwife), and then have the GP or midwife sign the completed form for confirmation that all the information given is correct.
The maternity exemption certificate will be valid until 12 months after the expected date of birth of your baby; this validity will be the same whether you apply for the exemption before you give birth, or after your baby is born. In case you give birth earlier than the expected date of delivery, the maternity exemption certificate can be used for free NHS dental treatment and free NHS prescriptions until the indicated expiration date.
When should I start taking my child to the dentist?
You can take your child to the dentist for dental checkups as early as possible – this way, your child will get used to the idea (and to the experience) of going to the dentist at a very young age. Your child will benefit with this early exposure to dentists by not being afraid to go to the dentist for the necessary dental treatments, and will have learn about the proper way of taking care of his or her teeth at a young age.
You Can Easily Find an NHS or Private Pregnancy Dentist in your Local Area by Going to the TID Find a Dentist Page
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