Oral hygiene and dental health are incredibly important not only for your smile but for your overall health and self-image. Many women that have orthodontic issues like crowding or gaps, often wonder if they can get braces while they are pregnant. Getting braces is often anxiety-inducing enough, before having to worry about the impact on a pregnancy, but being pregnant can add another whole dimension to the worry.
The good news is that in most cases you’ll be able to get braces put on even if you’re pregnant, provided a few other conditions are met. We’re going to take a look at whether it’s safe to get braces installed while you’re pregnant, and what exactly the risks may be.
Can You Get Braces While Pregnant?
In most cases, it is just fine to have braces put on while pregnant. There are relatively few problems that are likely to arise that cannot be treated by any reasonably skilled dentist or orthodontist. The most important point though is to make sure your teeth are ready for the overall experience of braces. Also, be sure that you want to start them now because once they’re installed, they’re going to be there for a while.
It is important to remember, however, that braces cannot be put on unhealthy or broken teeth. This means that if you feel you might need braces, pregnant or not, you will need to make sure that your dental health is up to par. Many different conditions can prevent you from getting braces in any scenario, such as conditions that weaken or destabilize the teeth. For example, while you can get a cavity and have it filled while you have braces, those braces can’t be installed if there’s an untreated cavity present beforehand. If you have questions about your current oral health, your dentist or orthodontist are the best resources for answers.
Radio Imaging Safety
Getting braces requires that the teeth be robust enough to stand up to the strain of realignment. This generally means that the dentist or orthodontist will need x-ray imaging of the teeth and surrounding jaw bone area. Normally you would just toss on the lead apron and get your x-rays, but radiography can be very dangerous to the unborn.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t get imaging done, it just needs to be done in a particular way to make it safer. It is possible to get x-rays while pregnant, but the dentist will need to use heightened protections. You will be given additional lead padding, and the padding will be placed on your body in a different position. This way, your teeth can be imaged but your baby will be protected from the x-rays.
Pregnancy Can Make Oral Hygiene More Difficult
The wonder of pregnancy causes an incredible variety of changes to your body. Many of these changes, while they won’t preclude you from getting braces put on, can make the process or the overall experience much more challenging. Some of these challenges can be minimized or mitigated entirely, while others cannot be, and must simply be dealt with as best as possible.
One of the common side-effects of pregnancy is gum inflammation. This is incredibly common, but it can also be very uncomfortable. If your gums have become swollen before the installation, it may expose some of the roots of your teeth as the gum tissue becomes inflamed and pulls back from the gum line. This movement and inflammation can also raise the risk of cavities and plaque buildup near your roots. While gum inflammation may affect your eligibility for braces, the discomfort can be managed with help from your dentist.
Another thing that happens during pregnancy is a drastic shift in body chemistry, which can make the general cleaning of your teeth more difficult. Those body changes come along with tooth changes, and one of those tooth changes is a depletion or lower availability of calcium. This can lead to elevated levels of wear on the teeth, and this increased rate of wear can make them harder to clean. Brushing normally may need to be augmented by more frequent visits to the dentist for deep cleanings.
Cravings & Restrictions May Be More Challenging
The changes in a pregnant body also result in some of the most powerful and unique cravings possible. Some pregnancies also come with significant dietary restrictions. These cravings and dietary restrictions can combine with braces to make a relatively difficult diet.
This is because having braces put on will automatically impose some restrictions on what can be eaten, and eating the wrong things can jeopardize your dental health or even cause damage to the braces requiring repair. If you are pregnant and want or need braces, you should make sure you’re ready to fight cravings and abide by restrictions on foods that can put your dental health or pregnancy in danger.
Benefits & Drawbacks Of Getting Braces While Pregnant
One of the biggest reasons to get braces before you give birth is pure practicality. If you think you’re busy now being pregnant, once you give birth you’ll have to bring your baby with you everywhere. This makes it much easier to get a multitude of orthodontic appointments out of the way before you have to bring your infant with you. Just remember that realignment may take longer to finish than your pregnancy, so even if you start your dental treatments while pregnant unless you only need minor adjustments you may not be done before you give birth.
Another benefit to getting your braces on while pregnant is that the teeth in a pregnant person are easier to move in general. This is believed to be related to the increasing levels of relaxin, which is a pregnancy hormone that loosens ligaments in preparation for childbirth. Since the teeth are held in by ligaments, many pregnant women find that they have a slight loosening of their teeth while pregnant.
Even though there are some solid benefits to getting braces put on while pregnant, there are also some critical drawbacks. There is an elevated chance for gum disease, increased discomfort, significant time commitment, and some food restrictions.
With such significant effects on the body, braces can alter your oral hygiene routine at a time when it is vital. Pregnancy makes the gum disease gingivitis more likely, and getting braces put on will make it more challenging to clean your teeth, gumline, and floss. This is very important since dental issues can cause low birth weight, and can even cause preterm birth. The upside is that gingivitis is completely treatable if it develops, but it’s also highly preventable as well.
Increased sensitivity of the teeth and gums is normal during pregnancy. Braces can increase this discomfort, and pregnancy prevents you from using many of the common over-the-counter pain relievers and swelling reducers. Getting braces put on can be painful at times, and pain management is challenging for pregnant women.
Your braces will require a significant time commitment, and you will need to visit your orthodontist every 6-10 weeks as well as maintain regular dental checkups twice per year. When you add in your OB/GYN appointments, growth scans, and more, you may be looking at a lot of appointments.
Finally, since you are pregnant, you will undoubtedly experience some type of cravings for foods. With pregnancy, you’re already told that things like sushi, tuna, some cheese, and lunch meats are out, and braces can bring even more restrictions to the table. Even healthy, pregnancy-friendly foods like carrots or apples, maybe too hard and can pose a danger of damaging your braces.
Tips For Wearing Braces While Pregnant
Having braces while pregnant is more common than you’d think. Many expecting individuals either get pregnant while they have braces or get a new set of braces during their pregnancies. Here are some tips that you can follow if you plan on having braces during pregnancy.
- Frequently brush and floss your teeth
- Make sure your orthodontist and dentist are both aware that you are pregnant before any new treatments so they don’t have you get any x-rays
- Fight oral bacteria by using a warm saltwater rinse daily – salt keeps your gums healthy by promoting a proper pH balance
- Allow yourself plenty of time to get comfortable with your new braces by avoiding beginning your orthodontic treatment too close to your due date
Make Your Pregnancy Easier By Getting All Your Dental Essentials In One Place
A lot is going on during pregnancy, and getting all of your dental care supplies from Dr. Brite will not only save you the time it takes to shop around for different things, but it will also help you maintain your oral health. During pregnancy, many issues can come up, from bleeding gums to weakened enamel to tooth breakage, so it’s important to keep up with the care of your teeth. Whether you have them already or are planning on getting braces sometime during your pregnancy, we have everything you need to keep your mouth healthy.