WEDNESDAY, Aug. 7, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Dental cleanings and X-rays are safe for pregnant women, a U.S. obstetrician/gynecologist group says.
The group also advised ob-gyns to perform routine dental health assessments at women's first prenatal visit and to encourage their patients to see a dentist during pregnancy.
"These new recommendations address the questions and concerns that many ob-gyns, dentists and our patients have about whether it is safe to have dental work during pregnancy," Dr. Diana Cheng, vice chairwoman of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' Committee on Health Care for Underserved Women, said in a college news release.
Dental health problems are associated with other diseases, including heart disease, diabetes and respiratory infections.
"We want ob-gyns to routinely counsel all of their patients, including pregnant women, about the importance of oral health to their overall health," Cheng said.
The college noted that 35 percent of all women say they haven't seen a dentist in the past year and about 40 percent of pregnant women in the United States have cavities or gum disease. Physical changes caused by pregnancy can cause changes in teeth and gums. Dental problems during pregnancy are most common among black women, smokers and women on public assistance.
"We can all reassure our patients that routine teeth cleanings, dental X-rays and local anesthesia are safe during pregnancy," Cheng said. "Pregnancy is not a reason to delay root canals or filling cavities if they are needed because putting off treatment may lead to further complications."
Among the potential benefits of good dental health during pregnancy is that it may decrease the transmission of cavity-causing bacteria from mother to baby, which can help reduce the child's future risk of cavities.
The Columbia University College of Dental Medicine explains how pregnancy affects oral health.