10 Questions to help you decide if you should see a dentist during pregnancy or not
Once you’ve read and learned about the does and don’ts of seeing a dentist during pregnancy, it’s now time to decide what to do. Here is a list of question to better help you decide whether seeing or avoiding the dentist makes more sense during pregnancy. Please answer each question with either a “yes” or “no“:
- Are your gums bleeding more than they usually do?
- If you are in pain, would you say the pain is between a 7 to 10? (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest)
- Is your pain lingering and throbbing in nature?
- Does your pain last for more than 10 to 15 minutes at a time?
- Are you still in your first or second trimester?
- Can you go back to a dentist you’ve already been to recently or within the last few years?
- If you can’t go back to your existing dentist, do you have access to pick up your X-rays from them or are able to contact them for a copy of your X-rays?
- Have you already obtained a medical clearance letter from your physician or OB/GYN?
- If you are in need of pain killers and medications, have you already asked for them from your primary care or OB/GYN?
- Has your physician positively advised you to seek dental treatment for you pain?
Good candidates for seeing the dentist during pregnancy
If you answered “yes” to most of the above questions then you should get yourself ready and go to your dentist, even if you are pregnant!
Question 1: Dental cleanings
There’s nothing wrong with receiving a cleaning during your pregnancy as we’ve already mentioned. In fact, getting a dental cleaning during pregnancy is highly advisable, especially if you’re suffering from pregnancy gingivitis, which is identified by easily bleeding gums or sudden development of teeth sensitivity.
Here is the protocol on receiving dental cleanings during pregnancy: Avoid taking routine X-rays prior to your dental cleaning. It’s also best to avoid getting numb, even if you normally prefer to do so. If your teeth are very sensitive, consider using a topical numbing agent instead of the injectable types. If this doesn’t work, ask your dentist or hygienist to switch out their cleaning instrument for a different one. For instance, ask them use a hand instrument instead of a cavitron, which tends to be more painful. Finally, try to get your dental cleaning during your second trimester to maximum its benefits.
Questions 2 through 4: Severe pain
There better be some serious pain if you’re going to go through the hassles of seeing your dentist during pregnancy! If your teeth are slightly hot and cold sensitive, try to modify your diet or use a sensitivity toothpaste. On the other hand, if you are experiencing an actual toothache, such as a severe toothache or one which is throbbing and lingering, then go and see your dentist right away!
Question 5: Too far along
When you’re in the first or second trimester there is still quite a ways to go. As such, it makes more sense to seek some sort of treatment if you are having a toothache. If you are experiencing pain early on during pregnancy, chances are you probably won’t be able to postpone treatment for several more months. It’s best to make arrangements to go to your dentist and see if they can help address your problem.
On the other hand, if you are already too far along your final trimester, it might just be wise to hold off treatment for just a bit longer. Consider talking to your physician to see if he or she can give you some medicine to help get you through these final weeks. Of course, you can always consult with your dentist to prepare yourself for what’s about to come if that’s your preference. Although at this point it might just make more sense to hold off on definitive treatment until after delivery, if at all possible.
Questions 6 and 7: Searching for a new dentist
If you have a dentist which you’ve been seeing regularly then seeking a consultation during pregnancy is not an issue. After all, they already know who you are and probably even have an idea of which tooth it is that is bothering you. Additionally, they will have your X-rays on file which makes it much easier to treat you. Changing dentists during pregnancy can be quite challenging. Building a new relationship, taking new X-rays and rendering comprehensive care is much more difficult when you are pregnant.
Questions 8 through 10: Preparation for your dental treatment
Once you’ve made up your mind that you prefer to see a dentist, it’s time to prepare for your appointment. It’s best if you visit your primary care or OB/GYN first to obtain a medical clearance letter. Showing up to your dentist with the clearance letter in hand will save you lots of time and headaches. Note that most dentists don’t require a medical clearance letter if you’re only seeking a dental cleaning. Nevertheless, you should check with them in advance as this doesn’t always apply. Also make sure to ask your physician for any medication which you might need. Most dentists won’t give you any medications during your pregnancy and will most likely refer you back to your physician.
Good candidate for avoiding the dentist during pregnancy
If you answered “no” to most of the above questions then you should avoid going to the dentist and consider postponing treatment until after childbirth.
Final thought on pregnancy and the dentist
It can be a tough decision deciding on whether to see or avoid the dentist during pregnancy. The wisest thing to do is to get a complete checkup before you become pregnant. If however you do miss this opportunity, then try to limit your visits to either dental cleanings or emergency treatments. Expect to receive limited treatment and possibly get referred to dental specialists for more extensive treatments.