All of us in the dental world...even we dental editors...know the importance of maintaining proper dental care at all times. However, an often overlooked time in a woman's life is pregnancy. Pregnancy can be exciting and nerve-wracking (I speak from experience). As soon as you announce your pregnancy, you're inundated with well-meaning advice from friends and family about what you should and shouldn't be doing...what could be potentially harmful to your baby. This "advice" can often cause pregnant women to avoid perfectly harmless routine activies, even those that are beneficial to the overall health of the mother and baby. In the dental world, that may mean avoiding x-rays, anesthetics, and routine dental products and materials like fluoride. Are your pregnant patients' uncertainty costing you business?
The truth is, prenatal dental health is important to both the mother and developing child. A recent article on eMaxHealth.com covered some of the most important topics that your pregnant patients need to know. According to the article, ?There is no reason to postpone a dental cleaning that occurs during pregnancy ? and if you are going to the dentist every six months as recommended, one of these appointments is most likely to occur at some point during your nine months. But unfortunately, the ACOG finds that 35% of all women say they haven?t seen a dentist in the past year and about 40% of pregnant women in the US have cavities or gum disease.?
The following list of findings from the article might be worth sharing with your patients to ease their minds:
- Oral infection from gum disease in pregnant women can often be linked to preterm birth and low-birth weight babies.
- Delaying cavity fillings or root canals during pregnancy can lead to further complications down the road
- Crown procedures should be performed on needful pregnant patients to reduce infection risk
As for x-rays, the article notes that ?X-rays, if simply routine, can be postponed until after the birth. But if necessary for an emergency dental procedure, the American College of Radiology state that a single diagnostic x-ray is safe and does not have enough radiation to cause adverse effects in a developing embryo or fetus.?
However, elective cosmetic procedures, such as using dental whitening products, may warrant postponement, just to be safe.
While it may seem like common sense to dental practitioners that pregnant women should continue with regularly scheduled cleanings and examinations, a significant enough number of pregnant women are uncertain to warrant proactive engagement on your practice?s behalf. Reach out to your patients and consider including prenatal consultations as a service that keeps your patients healthy and happy while offering Moms-to-be a little more peace of mind.
You might also want to check out a blog written by Dr. Maryam Beyramian earlier this year. In that blog she took issue with a New York Times article that implied dentists are refusing to treat pregnant patients. You can read her blog here.
Have you noticed a drop off in the number of pregnant patients that your practice sees?