A patient once told me she’d like to get braces while pregnant because she heard teeth move faster. While that’s partially true, it’s no legitimate reason to get braces during such a life changing time. But what if you get pregnant while wearing braces?
Getting pregnant while wearing braces won’t change the course of orthodontic treatment, but your orthodontist will need to take some precautions. Tooth mobility, pregnancy gingivitis and missing appointments in the last trimester and after birth can all add more time and complexity to the treatment.
Whether you’re planning to get braces before, during or after pregnancy, there are some things you need to be aware of. Read on to learn how we manage these situations in our dental offices.
Do you need to tell your orthodontist you’re pregnant?
I see this question online and I really don’t understand why any woman would want to hide her pregnancy from her dentist or orthodontist. Just like you would tell your GP, you need to tell your dental care provider, and it will stay confidential.
Yes, your doctor may refuse to bond braces on your teeth while pregnant, but that’s just because they can’t take X rays and do a thorough examination of your case.
Otherwise, if you already have braces or aligners, it’s perfectly fine, as the orthodontic treatment is already set in motion.
It’s important to let your doctor know about the possibility of getting or being pregnant so they can understand certain changes happening in your body that will most likely affect your teeth, jaw bones, and gums.
Here are the main reasons why pregnancy is special when it comes to braces care:
1. Pregnancy gingivitis
Along with all the dramatic changes happening in their body, most pregnant women will experience pregnancy gingivitis at some point. Hormones will cause the gums to swell, become red and puffy, and bleed at the slightest touch.
Sometimes, swollen gums will grow over braces, making good oral hygiene impossible. To stop this pregnancy gingivitis from getting too dramatic, I recommend regular appointments with the hygienist and possibly removing braces altogether if gums get too inflamed.
2. Loose teeth
Every patient will experience loose teeth with braces, but pregnancy might take it to another level. The relaxin hormone affects everything from bones, joints, sphincters, and yes, even teeth and periodontium.
Teeth move much faster in pregnancy, but this isn’t something we always want, because teeth that are loose aren’t stable and need a long time in the retention phase.
3. Missed Appointments
Morning sickness, pain, contractions, fatigue, or giving birth to your baby – these are all legitimate reasons to stay at home and look after your health. We can always hit pause on our orthodontic treatment.
During the last trimester, I like to place a passive archwire and secure all the teeth with a metal ligature around the braces. This ensures that everything stays put and no dramatic changes take place until the patient comes back.
TTC (Trying to Conceive) while wearing braces
Trying to conceive with braces is not the same as already being pregnant when getting braces. Although possible, I’m not a fan of bonding braces on a pregnant patient, mainly for the reasons mentioned above.
But trying to conceive is different – it can take months or years, and it’s something that some of my adult patients often decide while in the middle of orthodontic treatment.
For your peace of mind, it’s best to ask your orthodontist if TTC changes anything, and the answer will most likely be: it’s okay and good luck!
Braces care during the first trimester
From one mom to another: morning sickness is rough! Especially when it turns into all-day sickness or all-first-trimester sickness. All those visits to the toilet bowl may affect your teeth and braces. Here’s why:
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not advisable to brush your teeth right after vomiting. Just like it’s not a good idea to brush your teeth right after drinking fizzy drinks. Your stomach acid will soften layers of your enamel, and the brushing mechanics may damage it if you do it repeatedly.
The good news is that enamel can pull back minerals from your saliva and heal itself, so, instead of brushing, rinse your mouth with water, or a baking soda solution, and refrain from brushing your teeth for at least 30 minutes after getting sick.
Can you get braces tightened while pregnant?
The simple answer is yes, braces will work in the same way they would if you weren’t pregnant. Your orthodontist will change archwires, ligatures, elastic ties, and bond brackets just like they would in a normal case.
Pregnancy gingivitis may cause some problems when brackets need replacing because of spontaneous bleeding, but there are ways to work around that.
Your orthodontist will also avoid putting too much pressure on loose teeth, and avoid heavy orthodontic movement until you give birth.
Your orthodontist may also schedule your dental appointments farther apart, to avoid tightening your teeth too often and also give you a break from all the visits.
Giving birth / c-section with braces
It’s perfectly safe to have major surgery or give birth naturally with braces. It only becomes an issue when you need an MRI, but even then, if you need imaging below the neck area you won’t need to take your braces off.
Braces may cause image distortions in head and neck MRIs, but the small amount of metal inside braces won’t harm your teeth when you’re inside the MRI machine.
Removing braces while pregnant
If you’re scheduled to have your braces removed during your pregnancy, know that it’s a safe and painless procedure. Your doctor will pop the brackets off with a special plier and use a special burr to clean the glue off your teeth.
If anything, debonding is more unpleasant for the person doing it rather than the patient, because of all the glue dust, and saliva involved. It might be a little more difficult to remove all the residual glue if your gums are bleeding, but we can always get to it later.
Dental x-rays while pregnant
You may already know that you can’t take X-Rays while pregnant, although the risk of harming your unborn child is very small. In fact, you’re likely to experience more radiation if you’re flying frequently than you would with dental radiographs.
You’ll need a panoramic film (at the very least) before starting orthodontic treatment, and a few more control X-rays along the way. If you’re already pregnant, you may not find a doctor willing to expose you to radiation, even if you agree to it. (This happened to me, I needed a quick X-ray on one tooth while pregnant and they refused me, despite being a dentist).
Invisalign during pregnancy
Clear aligners like Invisalign are by far the most hygienic and healthy option compared to braces during pregnancy. You’ll have no problem cleaning your teeth, and if you wear your aligners all the time, you won’t be bothered by the looseness in your teeth.
To get Invisalign, your teeth need to be scanned with a special device that renders a 3D image of your mouth. Based on that information, a special software will recreate the next steps of treatment and make aligners based on those projections.
The good news is that this scanner doesn’t use any radiation to create digital images, so it’s entirely safe to use on anyone, including pregnant women.
Retainers during pregnancy
If you’ve already gone through orthodontic treatment and you’re now pregnant, you need to be very diligent with wearing your retainers. Teeth can shift much faster during pregnancy, and missing only a couple of days of wearing your retainers can cause them to no longer fit properly.
If you’re pregnant and you’re about to have your braces removed, you will possibly need two sets of retainers: one for now, and one for when your gums heal from all the swelling and puffiness.
Hopefully, I’ve answered your questions about how pregnancy impacts wearing braces. It’s no small thing, and both you and your orthodontist need to be informed and work together to make this a healthy and joyful time.