Should You Seek Cosmetic Dentistry While Pregnant?

If you've recently found out you're pregnant for the first time, you may already be overwhelmed with the long list of dos and don'ts handed out by your doctor, family members, and even acquaintances. For those who have wanted cosmetic dentistry for years, having to put off a procedure like veneer application or laser whitening until after you've given birth could seem like an eternity away. Is it safe for you to have cosmetic dental procedures performed during your pregnancy, or should you wait until later? Read on to learn more about some of the recommended (and contraindicated) cosmetic procedures for pregnant women.

What cosmetic procedures are safe during pregnancy? 

While former generations of pregnant women were often cautioned to avoid most dental procedures while pregnant, evidence now shows that maintaining dental health while pregnant is more important than ever before. Pregnancy can do a number on your teeth -- and between demands for calcium from your growing child (which can often weaken your bones and teeth) and the gum swelling and irritation that often occurs during the second and third trimesters, having your dentist keep a close eye on your teeth is crucial to your future dental health. You shouldn't shy away from dental X-rays if you're potentially dealing with a cavity or impacted tooth, as studies have shown the amount of radiation in a dental X-ray poses much less harm than a potential infection. 

In addition to your regular dental cleanings and any preventive or curative treatments needed, there are some cosmetic procedures that are safe and can sometimes even be beneficial during pregnancy. Applying veneers to your teeth can help improve your biting surface and minimize potential decay or uneven wear on other teeth. This process is fairly quick and shouldn't involve any general anesthesia that could potentially affect your developing fetus. Certain laser whitening procedures don't involve any harmful chemicals and are also safe during pregnancy, although you'll want to avoid lying flat on your back for extended periods of time in your third trimester. Once your child has reached a certain size, lying on your back could interfere with your ability to take deep breaths or even block blood flow to the placenta (similarly to how sitting on your foot can cause it to "fall asleep").

Which procedures should you delay until after you've given birth?

Those seeking dental implants to help replace missing teeth may want to wait until after they've recovered from the postpartum period. Because dental implant surgery involves the installation of a threaded titanium rod into your jawbone and the eventual integration of this rod into your bone, it takes quite a bit of your body's resources during the healing process -- and when you're pregnant or breastfeeding, your body is already doing additional work. If the missing tooth is bothering you or making it difficult to eat, you could opt for a temporary dental bridge. This will act as a partial denture and help you chew and achieve a more uniform appearance without impacting your health in any way.

In addition, having gum reshaping surgery performed while pregnant may create additional irritation and inflammation for already-sensitive gums. Because pregnancy increases your body's blood volume (including the blood flow to your gums), you could find yourself bleeding profusely after this procedure. After you've given birth and your body's fluid levels have gone back to normal, you could also notice that your gums change shape or recede a bit. Waiting to have your gum reshaping procedure until you're no longer pregnant will help your oral surgeon do a much better job at permanently changing the way your gums look.

For more information, contact a clinic like Milan Simanek, D.D.S. & Associates.