With more adults accessing orthodontic treatment now compared to previous times, women often question if they can start their orthodontics while pregnant.
The good news is that it’s perfectly fine to start or continue orthodontic treatment while pregnant, and it might even be the perfect timing for you. If you wait until your baby is born, it may be harder to commit to the appointments and fit them into your new schedule.
There’s an extra benefit to having orthodontic treatment while pregnant. Some pregnant women experience a slight increase in tooth movement due to the increase in bone-affecting hormones including pregnancy hormone relaxin, which helps relax the pelvis ligaments in preparation for childbirth. With teeth slightly looser than normal, braces don’t need to work as hard to move teeth into the desired position. Soon after childbirth, most women report their teeth to return to normal and don’t feel as loose as they did during pregnancy.
Common Concerns of Pregnant Women
You may have considered one or more of these if you’re considering orthodontic treatment while pregnant.
Safety of the Developing Baby
Is it safe to have dental X-rays while pregnant?
Before starting orthodontic treatment, your orthodontist needs to take X-rays of your mouth and jaw. The X-rays show the roots of teeth that aren’t visible below the gums as well as the jaw bones. The X-rays allow the orthodontist to work on a treatment plan but also reveal potential problems that can’t be seen during an examination.
Some medical experts recommend that pregnant women avoid having X-rays unless medically necessary and we would support this approach. Although there is a small amount of radiation delivered during a dental x-ray, it still may pose a slight risk to the unborn baby. Nevertheless, some pregnant women do have x-rays while pregnant and use a lead shield placed over the abdomen to protect the baby.
Having the x-ray before falling pregnant poses no risk. Therefore, if a woman has already had her x-rays before falling pregnant, she can easily proceed with her orthodontic treatment.
Are metal braces safe for a developing baby?
Some patients are concerned that the metal used in braces may be harmful to pregnant women. However, there is no evidence to show that the metal causes any complications during pregnancy or after birth.
Other types of braces such as ceramic and lingual (behind the teeth) are also perfectly fine to have while pregnant.
The Comfort of Orthodontic Treatments for a Mother-to-Be
Does it take long to adjust to braces or will it be too uncomfortable during later pregnancy stages?
Many pregnant women avoid laying on their backs to sleep or rest during the later months of pregnancy. The weight of the baby can place pressure on major blood vessels which can reduce the flow of blood to the uterus and restrict a baby’s oxygen flow. Instead, doctors recommend pregnant women fall asleep on their side.
Why is this relevant? Sitting back in a dentist’s chair to have braces fitted can be uncomfortable for some women in their last trimester. Nevertheless, sitting to get braces may not take as long as some other complex dental work and the process can always be interrupted so mothers-to-be can sit up for a while and have a break. However, you should listen to your body and how you’re feeling at the time leading up to your appointment.
Do I still need to see my dentist if I’m visiting the orthodontist?
During pregnancy, it’s more important than ever for women to see their dentist. Without basic dental hygiene and visits to their dentist, they’re at risk of periodontal disease (gum) and cavities. Preterm birth and a baby’s low birth weight have been linked to periodontal (gum) disease. Moreover, having braces can align crooked teeth which makes cleaning them easier and reduces the risk of cavities.
Will I need medication if the tightened braces cause discomfort?
Some patients take over-the-counter pain relief medication for their fitting and adjustment appointments. Always check with your obstetrician before taking any medication while pregnant.
Are there any dental health concerns during pregnancy?
There are a few conditions to be aware of that can cause issues for teeth in a small number of women. Some experience gum problems, mainly during the second trimester, as well as gingivitis and pregnancy epulis ( a small fibrous swelling) which can cause bleeding while brushing and flossing. During appointments, we check the health of our patient’s gums and recommend you see your dentist if needed. Just remember to keep brushing and flossing your teeth daily, and report any concerns to your dentist. It probably is a good idea to see your dentist more frequently for routine cleaning.
What if I suffer from gagging or vomiting during pregnancy?
Some women suffer from morning sickness while pregnant. For most, it subsides after the first trimester but for others, it continues. You may want to postpone your braces fitting until the second trimester if you still aren’t feeling well.
Pregnancy and Orthodontics
We’ve treated many pregnant women over the years. If any of your concerns haven’t been answered here, get in touch with our team and we’re more than happy to answer your questions!
Pregnancy is such an important moment in a woman's life and special care is often required. Oral care and treatment don't need to be left aside! You can discuss any treatment queries with one of our specialists by calling your nearest clinic, contacting us online or booking an appointment.