Author – Marcelina is a full time writer, wife, and mom to two children and three dogs. In her spare time, she breathes and reflects on how fast time goes when staying busy living life to its fullest.
Table Of Contents
- Dental Care While Trying To Conceive
- Dental Care While Pregnant
- Dental Care After Pregnancy During Nursing
As soon as you start trying to conceive (TTC), think about your baby first. At least that’s what I did. I went from minimally caring about my health and well-being to paying attention to every single thing I put into my body. Questions would fire off in my mind any time something would pass across my lips into my mouth:
- Will this affect my chances of conceiving some way?
- Will it harm my developing baby?
- What if this does something to cause a disability or deformity?
Was I being overly cautious, or in my friend’s word – paranoid? Probably. This was my future child, though. As a hopeful mother, I wanted only the best for him or her, and well, I didn’t want to screw anything up.
As I was considering all of the food and drinks I was consuming and all of the germs that were around me, one of the things that popped out to me that I decided to research was dental care. Yes, this came to me one morning as I was brushing my teeth. Immediately, I froze with fear and thought, “Let me stop doing this and research what is in the toothpaste, floss, and mouthwash.”
Before I could get to my computer, I had another thought, “OH NO! I have an appointment with my dentist next week. What if they want to do an x-ray or I need an extraction? What if I have a cavity they need to fill?” One question led to another one, and then another one.
As I researched, I knew other people would love to know what I was finding, so I wrote this up. It helped me, so I thought it would help you too.
Dental Precautions While Trying to Conceive
TTC is a special time in your life. You are attempting to create a human inside of your body. Since a woman’s body is highly complex and many factors go into conception, you may wonder what could hamper it when it comes to dental care. The following are some of the precautions you should take while you are TTC.
The Importance of Dental Care during TTC
Dental health affects your chances of conceiving. This is why it’s imperative to take care of your teeth as much as you do your body when you are TTCing. The European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Stockholm, Sweden found that thousands of women with good dental health conceived two months earlier than those with gingivitis or periodontitis.
Women who suffered from oral issues such as periodontal disease took more than seven months to conceive compared to those who didn’t have the disease who took about five months to conceive, according to the University of Western Australia. The positive benefits of dental care on your conception make it vital that you regularly visit dentist even without insurance, the pros outweigh the costs.
So while you may be nervous about toothpaste and everything your dentist does to preserve your dental health, it is necessary for you to continue taking care of it as you are TTC. The good news is that there are some alternatives to some of the chemicals you and your dental care provider use.
Dental Care at Home
To prevent gum disease, you should brush your teeth at least twice a day, but after every meal is better. When choosing toothpaste, you may want to look for non-fluoride. Adverse effects on reproduction have been found with high levels of fluoride, which is 100 ppm or greater. Lower concentrations did not show any effect. A pea-sized amount of toothpaste contains about 0.3 mg of fluoride. However, to be on the safe side, you can use non-fluoride or fluoride-free toothpaste.
“Pregnancy gingivitis results from the hormonal imbalances during pregnancy. Although the gums may appear puffy, irritated, bleeding, it is essential to floss as much as possible to limit the amount of plaque and bacteria present.”
Some examples of fluoride-free toothpaste are:
- Tom’s of Maine Natural Toothpaste – Triclosan and Fluoride Free
- Jason Nutrismile
- Botanique Toothpaste Neem & Pomegranate
There’s another chemical in toothpaste you should be aware of while TTC – triclosan. This chemical has been shown in studies to disrupt endocrine production, which can alter hormone levels and affect the reproductive system. It can also lower sperm count in men. In addition to fluoride-free toothpaste, you may want to seek triclosan-free ones as well. Simply look at the ingredients list on the toothpaste to see if it contains triclosan. Tom’s of Maine toothpaste is an option.
Mouthwash should be another fluoride-free choice. You can find many fluoride-free ones online and at the store.
Here are some safe chemical free mouthwashes:
- Sharp Natural Oral Care Mouthwash
- Listerine Antiseptic Mouthwash
- Tom’s of Maine – Natural Cleansing Mouthwash Fluoride-Free Spearmint
*I’ve found Tom’s of Maine seems to offer great health products that are safe for ttc, pregnancy and after, due to the chemical free nature of their products. You can find their products online at Tom’s Of Maine. (not an affiliate link)
Flossing is highly important in preventing gum disease. While the flavored ones should be okay for you and your future baby, you can always choose the unflavored ones if that makes you feel more comfortable.
Another very specific instance in which you should consult with your dentist if you’re pregnant or TTC is if you have scheduled a wisdom teeth extraction, this is quite an operation and you should take care.
Seeing the Dentist During TTC
Due to the effects of dental issues on infertility and an unborn fetus, it is crucial for you to continue seeing your dentist during TTC for routine cleanings and procedures. There are precautions you should take, though.
During cleanings, the dental hygienist will often check your teeth for oral issues such as gingivitis. This includes scraping plaque off your teeth, especially at the gum line. This procedure is safe since there are no chemicals used.
The polish, which many people think is toothpaste, is called prophy paste. This is a pumice-based gel that has an indiscriminate amount of fluoride in it. Dentists do not offer an alternate because of the minute amount and low to no risk of impact on fertility.
Fluoride treatments are what you should be vigilant about when visiting the dentist. Since concentrated fluoride can decrease fertility in women due to reducing chances of implantation, it’s best to ask the dentist to skip the fluoride treatment while TTC. In addition, if your partner is seeing the dentist, you may want to advise him to skip the fluoride treatment too. It has been shown to lower sperm count, which can have an adverse effect on fertility.
When determining whether to seek a dental procedure, it’s important to weigh the risks vs. benefits. If the effects of the dental problems can be more harmful to fertility than getting the procedure, usually dentists will recommend moving forward with it. If the procedure can wait, such as in the case of teeth whitening, it’s best to do so until after you have the baby.
Cavities can be a tricky decision to make because they can cause a great deal of discomfort and do pose some risk to fertility and the development of a fetus. Metal fillings are composed of a mixture of alloys and liquid mercury. Fifty percent of the mixture is elemental mercury. The Food and Drug Administration find that it is a class II device, which means it has more risk than lower classifications. It’s the vapor the fillings give off that is troublesome, since it contains mercury. The exposure to the mercury is highest when the filling is placed and when it is removed and reduces afterward.
Mercury can affect fertility for men and women making TTC more difficult. Mercury can affect sperm by lowering the zinc and manganese in them, which is what controls mobility. This can make it more difficult for the sperm to reach the egg. Sperm can also carry mercury and if the woman is hypersensitive to it, her body can kill off the sperm thinking it’s a threat.
For women, mercury alters hormone levels. It accumulates in the hypothalamus and pituitary, which is where the glands are for hormone production. This can cause a lot of problems with the menstrual cycle, hypomenorrhea, and hypermenorrhea.
When a filling is needed during TTC, ask the dentist for resin composite fillings. These are made of ceramic and plastic compounds. This may cost more money than the metal ones, but it may be worth it to help with trying to conceive. If you have many fillings already, you may want to consider having the metal ones replaced with the resin composite, which could decrease the amount of mercury in your blood.
Whenever you have a dental procedure, anesthesia may be a concern. While the biggest risk is for those who work with anesthesia, since the exposure is much more than those who receive it for a short time in a dentist’s chair, some of you may want to forego it if it is not necessary. For those who work in dental offices, there have been reports of reduced fertility. Many dental procedures can be performed with Novocain. Since it is a local anesthetic, there is no risk to fertility.
You should always tell your dentist you are TTC because as you probably have already been made aware, it is inadvisable to have dental x-rays during it. While it is safe when they use the protective cover on your stomach and chest, some women feel better not having the x-ray at all, and most dentists will honor that request.
Dental Precautions to Take During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, hormones rise causing gums to swell and bleed increasing the likelihood of food getting trapped in them. This irritates your gums, which can lead to severe oral issues such as gingivitis and periodontal disease. These oral infections can cause serious harm to your baby including premature birth. Actually, up to 18 out of 100 premature births are believed to be triggered by periodontal disease.
The elevated risk of dental problems during pregnancy means it’s essential to take good care of your teeth during this time. It’s recommended to brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste. While fluoride may have been somewhat of a risk in TTC, you are encouraged to use it during pregnancy. Three months into your pregnancy, your baby develops teeth and the fluoride can help him or her grow strong, healthy teeth. It’s also critical during this stage to eat vitamin-rich foods, especially those containing vitamin A, C, D, and nutrients such as protein, calcium, and phosphorous.
Don’t forget to floss at least once a day. Since your gums are swollen and food gets trapped in them easily during pregnancy, flossing can get it out before it turns into a problem. Brushing gently, using floss, and a fluoride, non-alcoholic based mouthwash multiple times daily will preserve your oral health throughout pregnancy.
Whitening your teeth is not recommended during pregnancy at any stage. While there is no research that identifies what it is in whitening that could be potentially hazardous to your baby, dentists believe it’s best to wait until after the baby is born.
For natural ways to whiten your teeth, consider the following:
- Make a baking soda and lemon juice paste and gently scrub it on your teeth.
- Smash a strawberry, add salt and baking soda to make a scrub that will remove surface stains. The malic acid in strawberries penetrates stains and the baking soda and salt act as an abrasive to wipe it all away.
- Swish with coconut oil. Simply put about a tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth and swish like you do with mouthwash. The lactic acid in the coconut oil can not only make them less yellow, but it can also rid your teeth of bacteria keeping your breath fresh.
Dental Work During Pregnancy
If you need dental work during pregnancy, it’s best to wait until after the first trimester. The first trimester is the time all of your baby’s organs are being formed, so it’s best not to introduce anything that could potentially be a risk to your baby’s development.
If you need a dental x-ray during your second trimester, tell your dentist about your pregnancy. He or she may forgo the x-ray or if it’s really needed, use two lead cover-ups over your belly. The American College of Radiology reports a diagnostic x-ray does not deliver any significant amount of radiation that can lead to adverse effects in a developing embryo or fetus.
If a dental procedure needs to be done because the oral problem may lead to infection harming the baby, lidocaine is advised. It is the most common one for dental work during pregnancy and it is regarded as a Category B medication – indicating it is safe.
If anesthesia must be administered during pregnancy, it’s given in small doses until optimal comfort is achieved. Stress can have an adverse effect on you and your baby and can reduce the effectiveness of the anesthesia. Be sure to meditate or take part in some other stress-relieving activities before your appointment.
Following the dental procedure, you may be prescribed antibiotics to prevent infection. It’s important to take this medication because infection can lead to problems with your baby’s development. Antibiotics regarded as safe during pregnancy (Category B) are:
Tylenol is the only suitable pain relief for pregnant women, unless the pain is extreme. In cases of severe pain, oxycodone may be prescribed. There are also codeine, hydrocodone and propoxyphene that have been regarded as safe during pregnancy. It’s best to speak to your dentist about any side effects of taking these pain medications during pregnancy.
As mentioned in the TTC section, amalgam fillings contain mercury. This mercury crosses the placenta. While research has shown no health effects from the fillings in pregnant women, some may want to avoid them. High levels of mercury can lead to brain damage, and hearing and vision problems for the developing baby.
It’s best if you do need to have a cavity filled to use the resin or other type your dentist will recommend. Keep in mind, other types of fillings may not be covered by your dental insurance. While you may have to pay out of pocket for them, it’s the best choice to avoid the mercury exposure.
Dental appointments during the third trimester may be uncomfortable for you. Lying on your back in a dentist’s chair may not be possible. Schedule dental care during the second trimester if possible. If a dental appointment needs to be done during the third trimester, it’s important to ask the dentist to elevate your right hip to keep blood from pooling in your leg. If you do become faint, switch over to your side.
Dental health is more important than ever while you are pregnant. As scary as it may be to go to the dentist or clean your teeth with fluoride, trust in the research that advises it’s best for you and your baby’s development. Not caring for your teeth is much more of a risk than caring for it at this point, so be sure to schedule a dental appointment and keep up on your oral hygiene.
Dental Precautions While Nursing
I knew I wanted to breastfeed my baby even before I conceived. As I was looking up all of the information on TTCing and pregnancy, I decided that I might as well continue on to nursing. The good news is that it’s not as sensitive to all of the chemicals that may affect fertility and the fetus.
Dental Care at Home
Just as it’s important to keep your teeth healthy while you’re TTCing and pregnant, it’s essential during nursing too. Actually, it’s even more important because if you have a cavity or other oral issue, you may end up transferring those germs to your baby through the breastmilk. There’s not a high chance, but there is a chance, and that’s enough to make taking care of your teeth highly critical.
One of the concerns during fertility was the fluoride in toothpaste and mouthwash. This is not a concern while breastfeeding. Research has found no data on the excretion of fluoride into breast milk. However, there seems to be evidence that high concentrations of fluoride can decrease milk production. High concentration means 98 to 137 mg per kilogram of body weight. Since it’s nearly impossible to digest that amount with brushing your teeth and using mouthwash, it’s not a problem.
Since x-rays for the teeth are close to the chest, many nursing mothers become concerned about radiation. The good news is you do not have to be wary of it. Not only will you be wearing the lead best, but the radiation will not seep into and transfer to your baby via breast milk. The only effect it may have is killing off some of the living cells in the milk. Again, this is okay because those cells regenerate after feedings, so your baby won’t be affected.
If you need a cavity filled or another dental procedure, local anesthesia is acceptable during breastfeeding. Novocaine or lidocaine are both considered compatible (no risk for baby). In addition, most medications (oral or IV) for sedation are also compatible.
Laughing gas or nitrous oxide is also compatible with breastfeeding. The gas leaves the body quickly by going to the brain and then to the lungs out your mouth. After the laughing gas mask is removed, recovery only takes three to five minutes. For this reason, ingesting nitrous oxide via breastmilk is rare.
Major Takeaways for Dental Care During TTC, Pregnancy and Nursing
There was a lot of information gathered through my research. The major takeaways are to continue dental care through TTC, pregnancy, and nursing. Neglecting dental care is far worse than your exposure to potential toxins in the products you use.
If you believe fluoride may be the reason you’re having a difficult time conceiving, switch over to the fluoride and triclosan-free toothpaste and mouthwashes. Just switch back to fluoride toothpaste when you are pregnant, so your baby can benefit from it as he or she starts developing teeth. When you’re at the dentist, skip the fluoride if you’re TTCing. You can always get it at your next visit when you are pregnant.
During pregnancy, wait until your second trimester to do any dental procedure (if that’s possible). Your dentist will discuss the risks vs. benefits of having dental procedures during the first and third trimesters. If you have a serious oral issue that could end up harming the fetus, it may be better to have the procedure done sooner than the second trimester.
After having your baby and during nursing, you don’t have to worry about any toxins with toothpaste, mouthwash, and flossing your teeth. Dental procedures are okay too including x-rays, Novocain, lidocaine, and even sedatives. If you need a long dental surgery, nurse baby before it, and then after you are awake enough to hold your baby.
I hope all of this information was helpful to you. Please ask your dentist if you have any other concerns.
Healthy and happy preggo vibes coming your way!
Investigative resources used in this article: