WHEN YOUR BABY arrives, you’ll spend hours obsessing over teething – it’s a milestone in your baby’s life. But crucially, the health of your baby can be directly linked to your own set of chompers when they’re still in your womb. Your levels of oestrogen and progesterone skyrocket when you’re pregnant, and this storm of hormones leads to many physical changes in your body, which include the oral cavity. So, visiting your dentist should be on your to-do list. Not sure if it’s safe? These are the guidelines…
FOR THE FIRST TRIMESTER
Dentist Dr Eshaam Abdurahman recommends that you check in with your dentist so they can assess the state of your teeth, but doesn’t recommend any procedures be done during this time. “Some of the anaesthetic agents and painkillers used in dentistry have not been proven to be safe in pregnancy and the substances could affect the foetus during this crucial stage of development,” he says. You should also avoid radiographs (x-rays), unless they are needed to assess infection or damage, he says. “Depending on the amount of radiation and the stages of pregnancy damage to the foetal cells may result in miscarriages or birth defects and while dental radiation exposure of the foetus is negligible, it should be avoided,” he says.
FOR THE SECOND AND THIRD TRIMESTER
Lying on your back for a long period during this phase of your pregnancy is not recommended, and a stint in the dentist’s chair is no exception. Ensure you lie on your left side and elevate the head of the chair to avoid compression of the major blood vessels. “Scaling, polishing and curettage may be performed in these trimesters if they are necessary. The control of oral disease is important,” says Dr Abdurahman, but again routine radiographs should be avoided. If you do need an x-ray your dentist will place a lead shield over your abdomen to minimise exposure.