Many women fail to seek out oral care or mistakenly think it's dangerous, even though pregnancy itself may lead to gum inflammation. In addition, many pregnant women are refused treatment by their dentist.
Some dentists are just "old school" and may not be aware of current research or guidelines. "Many dentists were taught in dental school that you can't treat a pregnant woman," said Dr. Renee Samelson, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Albany Medical Center, who was an editor of the first and future New York State Department of Health guidelines on oral health in pregnancy. "Dentists simply erred on the side of caution… while where was no evidence of harm." Currently, dental treatment during pregnancy is considered beneficial, yet some dentists still hesitate to see pregnant women because they either fear litigation or harm to the fetus, or their knowledge of appropriate care is not concurrent with recent evidence.
"A lot of dentists still fear treating pregnant women, and think, 'What happens if I have to do an X-ray?' or 'What happens if I give antibiotics or local anesthesia?'" said Dr. Howard Minkoff, the chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn. "None of these are legitimate reasons not to provide appropriate care for [pregnant] women." Since 2006, many state organizations and dental associations have issued practice guidelines declaring that dental care is safe and effective at any stage of pregnancy, including diagnostic X-rays, cavity restorations and root canals.
According to the Oral Health Care During Pregnancy: A National Consensus Statement, published in October 2011 by the National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center at Georgetown University, OB-GYNs should check for bleeding gums or oral infection and refer a patient to a dentist if her last visit was longer than six months ago. The statement advised dentists to provide emergency care in any trimester. OB-GYNs can be consulted, as necessary, if a pregnant patient is diabetic or hypertensive, or if general anesthesia is required.
Delaying oral care can have serious consequences. Gingivitis, or gum inflammation, affects 60 to 75 percent of pregnant women, and if left unchecked, it can become periodontal disease. Untreated periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss and a mother with active tooth decay can spread cavity-causing bacteria to her child through saliva, perpetuating poor oral health.
If you are pregnant and concerned about receiving treatment, Dr. Chan is available to address all your concerns.
Dentist San Francisco: Based in Richmond District of San Francisco, Dentist Dr. Derrick M Chan, DDS brings over twenty-nine years of dental experience & is a long-standing member of the dental community. Please contact our dental office in San Francisco to make an appointment.We get that life is busy, and that you have commitments. Lately some patients have trouble finding trustworthy people to watch their child during their check-up. We provide a roomy office space, where parents can have their child wait. We’ll keep an eye on them with the latest movies, just earshot away from you. Feel free to bring any of their favorite videos and we will put them on for you. After all, parents know best!