Despite Old Notions, Professional Dental Care Vital During Pregnancy

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA- Pregnant women are bombarded with a list of rules and restrictions. Don’t do this, don’t eat that, and certainly don’t go to the dentist…right?


October is National Dental Hygiene Month, and Dr. Robert Walley is using the occasion to emphasize the necessity of professional dental care for expectant mothers.

“There seems to be this notion that expectant mothers should stay away from the dentist,” says Dr. Walley. “In reality, the opposite is true.”

Thanks to surging levels of the progesterone hormone during pregnancy, moms-to-be often experience what’s known as “pregnancy gingivitis.” This form of gum disease triggers swelling, bleeding and sensitivity in the gums. It’s estimated that 50 percent to 70 percent of expecting women will suffer from gingivitis during their pregnancy.

Swollen and irritated gums are increasingly susceptible to infection. That’s bad news for anybody- especially a pregnant woman. The mouth is the gateway to the bloodstream and an ideal environment for bacteria growth, so it’s important to be proactive about dental health during this critical stage. 

The Journal of the American Dental Association contends that women with chronic gum disease are four to seven times more likely to deliver babies prematurely. Low birth weight has also been linked to gum disease during the gestation period. Although incredibly rare, cases of oral bacteria traveling through the bloodstream and harming the baby have been reported.

A proper at-home dental hygiene routine, which includes brushing with a soft-bristled toothbrush for two minutes twice daily, flossing and correct use of mouth rinse, plays a major role in preventing gum disease. However, only a professional is equipped with the knowledge, tools and expertise to ensure teeth and gums are thoroughly cleaned.

There is one element of truth to the old dental care misconception. Elective procedures such as teeth whitening should be postponed until after the baby is born. Pregnant women should not subject themselves to any unnecessary chemicals, medicines or discomfort prior to delivery. 

Celebrate National Dental Hygiene Month by taking steps to achieve a healthy smile. Dr. Walley encourages pregnant patients to visit our office for a close examination and professional cleaning. In collaboration with our skilled dental hygienists, Dr. Walley will ensure teeth and gums are healthy and thriving. It’s one small step that can make a big difference in the health of mother and child.