Is Orthodontic Care Recommended When You Are Pregnant?

Planning orthodontic care around planning your family is one large balancing act. If you are expecting, is braces an option? Here are some things you should think about which will help you make the most informed decision about getting orthodontic care during pregnancy.

Know the Risks of Orthodontic Care During Pregnancy

Braces in and of themselves are harmless for pregnant women. However, there are still risks associated with orthodontic care at this time. The risks are minor, but could affect both you and your unborn child. The two biggest drawbacks of orthodontic care during pregnancy are:

  • The Possibility of Infection: During pregnancy, your teeth are more susceptible to bacterial infections such as gingivitis. Most of your body's nutrients are going to your developing baby, which weakens the enamel on your teeth. Add to that the difficulty cleaning teeth which have braces, and the likelihood of developing gingivitis or a different infection increases.
  • Likelihood of Less Precision: To protect your unborn child, x-rays are kept at a minimum. Your orthodontist will not perform a complete set of x-rays to determine the shape of and changes in your mouth. Results may be less precise than if you wait until after your baby is born for orthodontic care.
  • Your Care is Limited: As you prepare for braces, your orthodontist may realize you need more extensive treatment. You could be presented with a need for surgery to repair your jaw structure before braces would be effective. Unfortunately, surgical procedures requiring heavy sedation are unsafe during pregnancy. Only basic treatment should be pursued at this time.

Know the Best Time to Start Orthodontic Care During Pregnancy

Unless you begin orthodontic treatment before realizing you are expecting, it is best to wait until after the first trimester to wear braces. Orthodontists recommend waiting until the second trimester to begin treatment. The second trimester is a prime time for these reasons:

  • Improved Oral Health: During the first trimester of your pregnancy, you are more apt to throw up. Morning sickness usually subsides by the second trimester, however. Your teeth will be better able to withstand bacterial infection if you are no longer sick and throwing up each day.
  • You Are at Your Best: Most women agree that the second trimester is when they feel their best – some say even better than when they aren't expecting. Braces could be considered at this time because they will be uncomfortable for a few days. You don't want the discomfort of new braces alongside morning sickness in the first trimester or false labor pains in the third.

Know Your Braces Options During Pregnancy

There are more braces options available today than ever before. Whether or not you're expecting, you don't have to wear traditional braces. Non-traditional braces include removable braces. Orthodontists recommend removable braces for pregnant women because:

  • Your Teeth are Cleaner: Another way to improve your oral health and get orthodontic treatment during pregnancy is through removable braces. You can remove them to clean your teeth and prevent infection.
  • They Provide Better Precision: Removable braces are made by creating molds of your teeth. You then wear cartridges that slowly reshape your jaw and straighten your teeth. X-rays aren't as important in removable braces as they are in traditional braces.

Because of the risks and drawbacks associated with orthodontic treatment during pregnancy, some orthodontists don't recommend it. However, if you have assessed the risks and feel the timing is still right, it is still an option for you. Removable braces can be taken into consideration at this time, as well. Make sure you wait until you feel your best before starting orthodontic treatment during pregnancy.