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Pregnancy is a Reason to See the Dentist

May 20, 2013
Plain English Version

Going to the dentist is never fun. But not going to the dentist because you are pregnant is a very bad idea. For years dentists have been reluctant to treat pregnant women. There were fears that the fillings and other procedures could harm fetuses. Such fears are simply outdated thinking according to experts.

Also, OB-GYN doctors often fail to check for oral problems in pregnant women. Finally, many women fail to get oral care because they mistakenly think it might be dangerous.

In fact the opposite is true. Gingivitis or gum inflammation is common in pregnant women. Failure to treat this disease may cause periodontal disease. Periodontal disease may cause tooth decay and spread cavity-causing bacteria to the child.

Women who have tooth pain and do not get treated sometimes use over-the-counter drugs with harmful effects.

Some states offer dental Medicaid benefits to pregnant women. Many women do not use it. In Oklahoma, only 28 percent of the pregnant women on Medicaid went to the dentist. In New York, 41 percent of such women went to the dentist in 2010.

Experts say dentists and OB-GYN doctors have to work together. Guidelines on maternal oral health have been developed.

As one dentist said, “If you take your dog to the vet, the first thing they do is look in its mouth.” If you have not seen a dentist in six months and you are pregnant, it is time to go. All women “should realize that dental care is their right during pregnancy.”

Source: The New York Times

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