Recently, Dr. Allison Konick, a Sarasota dentist at BayView Dental Associates, discussed the effects of pregnancy on dental health. The interview by Heidi Godman can be heard via podcast on WSRQ .
Below is the dialogue between Dr. Konick and Ms. Godman:
Dr. Allison Konick – Pregnancy and Dental Health
Heidi Godman: Hi, everybody. Welcome to Health Check. I’m Heidi Godman. Hope you’re doing well. We have a wonderful program for you today. I’m so excited. We’re going to be talking about an aspect of health that you probably don’t consider when you decide to start your family and that is your dental health.
Yes, in addition to eating right and exercising and getting the right care for your unborn baby, you need to think of your teeth. A lot of tips that we’re going to be talking about today will totally make sense to you. I have to admit when I was preparing for this program.
Even though I’ve already had 3 of my own children, I would not have pointed to this information that we’re about to talk about today. It’s simple, it’s crucial but it’s the kind of thing that you don’t think about. If you’re having a baby or you know someone who is, this is the information that you are going to want to write down.
Please listen very carefully to this program. To help us today, we have not only an expert in dentistry but also a beautiful, glowing, expecting new mom, please welcome Dr. Allison Konick from BayView Dental Associates. BayView Dental Associates is a Sarasota dental office. Hi, Allison.
Dr. Allison Konick: Hi. Thank you so much for having me. It’s great to be here.
Heidi Godman: I’m so happy that you’re here and I just told everyone you’re expecting so tell us how you’re feeling?
Dr. Allison Konick: I’m actually feeling really good. I’m 25 weeks in so it’s the second trimester. I have a lot more energy and luckily things are going very well with the pregnancy so just doing great.
Heidi Godman: I know you and your husband are very, very excited. Tell us.
Dr. Allison Konick: We have found out at the end of the first trimester that we’re having a girl. Today also is our 3-year wedding anniversary so we’ve got a lot of fun, exciting things going on at home.
Heidi Godman: Happy anniversary.
Dr. Allison Konick: Thank you.
Heidi Godman: It’s a girl. Are you able to share her name with us?
Dr. Allison Konick: Sure. We’re going to name the baby, Scarlet and that is after my husband’s college. He went to Rutgers in New Jersey where I’m from as well. We met there and their mascot is Scarlet Knights so we took that on and we’re going to name her that. I just love that name. I think it’s very pretty.
Heidi Godman: I love that. It is a gorgeous name and Rutgers. I went to WVU. We used to play Rutgers all the time.
Dr. Allison Konick: There you go.
Heidi Godman: We wouldn’t want to name one of our children, Mountaineer. Mountaineer wouldn’t have worked but I love Scarlet. That’s wonderful.
Dr. Allison Konick: Thank you.
Heidi Godman: You mentioned that you’re from New Jersey. Tell us about your background. Where in New Jersey are you from?
Dr. Allison Konick: Sure. I grew up in Metuchen, New Jersey which every time I say that, I think no one is going to know what I’m talking about. I’m always so surprised that people say, “Oh yeah, Metuchen” and then they have a story about it. Truth be told, the town has only 2.8 square miles but it’s such a cute, quaint little small town USA feeling.
That’s where I grew up. I lived there until I was 18 and it just was a good place to grow up and meet friends and my family all lived close by so it was …
Heidi Godman: What a wonderful way to grew up. I’ll bet that small town foundation has really affected you now that you’re an adult.
Dr. Allison Konick: Yes, it has. I carry that with me even going into choosing my college. I had to feel at home when I got there. When I went to Villanova, that was undergrad, I just remember getting there and feeling this is where I meant to be and I have a very close-knit group of friends from college as well from just my upbringing of being very family-oriented.
Heidi Godman: That must affect your approach as a dentist too?
Dr. Allison Konick: Sure. It’s very important to me to get to know my patients and make them feel comfortable. You grow up and your parents tell you to do unto others as you would have them do unto you and the golden rule and all those things.
I feel like I have that woven through my upbringing and when I’m a dentist, these patients … A lot of the times when a patient comes in and this is not their favorite place to be in the dental office by any means. If we can make them comfortable and feel welcome and connect really. I think that’s the main thing that you build that trust and that small town feeling comes in to the office too because they feel at ease.
Heidi Godman: When you get to know a patient and you get to know the patient’s family and you get to know what that person is going through, what the lifestyle is, I bet that also helps you to determine what the patient’s oral health is.
Dr. Allison Konick: Sure. Just from families and cultures there’s a lot of different habits and beliefs that people have about dentistry and different ways that they take care of their teeth or don’t take care of their teeth depending on what they had learned from childhood.
Getting all that out in the open and in the beginning is important to understand the patient’s philosophy on their oral health and then using that to motivate how I’m going to present the treatment and explain things to them on a level that they’re comfortable with.
That they’re going to understand and want to continue to improve the health of their mouth because ultimately that is the goal of both of us when we’re together in the office.
Heidi Godman: If you’re just joining us, I’m speaking with Dr. Allison Konick from BayView Dental Associates. We’re talking about dental health during pregnancy. This is Health Check with Heidi Godman. By the way, if you’d like to listen to the program again, remember you can always go to our website, Sarasotatalkradio.com.
Listen to it again or send the link to someone who you know is pregnant because this is really great information. We’re getting to know Allison a little bit and want to talk about what drew you to dentistry?
Dr. Allison Konick: My mom says she knew from when I was a 5-year old that I would be a dentist because I would come home from school and tell her who lost their tooth that week at school and things like that. For me it was probably decided around my sophomore year of high school.
I had to do a project where you would shadow someone in a career that you think you might like. I went to my dentist office who I’d been going to since I was a little girl. I always liked that he was a family person. He had kids, he went on vacations but he was also a doctor and people respected him.
He was doing such a great thing being able to help people be in healthcare. I spent a few days with him just watching different procedures and it was also interesting to me and growing up, I had been usually at the head of my class and really a brainy kid.
It made sense to me to use that in a way that I could help people and emulate my career path after what doctor smith had done. It was just then that I had decided that’s what I want to do so I just stayed focus with school and went on and became a dentist and hopefully making proud.
Heidi Godman: I’m sure you’re making him very proud and your parents too. Tell us where you did your training?
Dr. Allison Konick: Sure. Like I had mentioned earlier, I did my undergraduate studies at Villanova which is just outside of Philadelphia. Then I really wanted to live in Florida so I applied to a bunch of schools and Florida was my top choice. Luckily, they decided that they liked me too. I got into the University of Florida for dental school. I went there graduated in 2011 so go Gators.
Heidi Godman: Yes, Go Gators and go Scarlet Knights. How do you get from Gainesville to Sarasota?
Dr. Allison Konick: Coming from New Jersey, I abandoned this whole small town, lovey-doveyness that I had my whole life. I just went to dental school. I made friends but I didn’t have family close by. Gainesville is about 2, 3, depending on who’s driving hours from here. I happen to have family that lives in St. Pete.
We wanted to be, my husband and I, closer to the water, closer to the family that we had. We settled in this area and we actually lived in Lakewood Ranch. We happen to really like that area so we bought a house there last year.
Heidi Godman: Congratulations. You moved here and now you’ve set up your practice. You’re having your baby. It’s your third wedding anniversary. Everybody wants to get to know you. You just got to BayView Dental when? When did you get there?
Dr. Allison Konick: I began there in February actually.
Heidi Godman: Then everyone is rushing to see you and you’re at which location because there are 5 locations?
Dr. Allison Konick: I’m at the Arlington location which is right here in Sarasota on Arlington Street, 1880 Arlington Street. It’s right behind Sarasota Memorial Hospital.
Heidi Godman: Wonderful. Is it easy to get in to see you right now or is there a long, long wait or can you finesse it?
Dr. Allison Konick: We can definitely finesse it. We like to try to leave room and the schedule to handle anything if people have emergencies, concerns, patients that are going out of town and they want to be seen just to make sure that everything is okay. We always try to do accommodate everyone. Right now especially in the summer it has slowed down a little bit so we definitely have the time to see patients for all their needs.
Heidi Godman: I bet this is a good time to interview a dentist if you’re looking for a new dentist. Do you recommend that that someone can come in and get to know the dentist first?
Dr. Allison Konick: Definitely. I think it’s a very sensitive area that we worked as a dentist in the mouth. You definitely want to find someone who you can relate with, something maybe you have something in common. You just want to be able to feel at ease.
When you go in, you get that impression of the office of how you’re treated, just even from your very first phone call. That’s something that I loved about coming to BayView Dental when we answer the phone we say, “How can we make you smile today?”
Ultimately, if you really boil it down, that’s really what we’re here for in dentistry. I think in my office in particular, we do a great job of treating the patients like they’re family and they are all smiling when they walk out the door. That gives me a really satisfying when I go home every day as well.
Heidi Godman: Wonderful. I know you’re dentist and your family must be so proud of you because you just exude that hometown feel. I anchored the news here at the hometown station for a long, long time. It is a hometown place.
We have people come here from all over the world but it does have a small town feel even though it’s pretty big, our immediate area more than a million people. We will continue talking with Dr. Allison Konick but we want to take a short break.
You’re listening to Health Check with Heidi Godman on WSRQ. Coming up, we’re going to talk more about the changes of pregnancy and how they affect your dental health with Dr. Allison Konick. Stay with us.
Heidi Godman: Welcome back to Health Check. I’m Heidi Godman. If you’re just joining us, my guest is Dr. Allison Konick of BayView Dental Associates. She has shared that she is expecting her first child. I’m very excited for her. She’s beautiful and glowing. She’s just so wonderful.
Allison, we should say that there are a lot of physical changes that occur in pregnancy that affect dental health. Of course you know this but do you think most of your expecting patients know this?
Dr. Allison Konick: I don’t think they know that. I think I have extra information being the dentist and going through the pregnancy at the same time but I imagine had I not been a dentist I would not have thought about all these things that are possible.
There’s so many changes that are happening in your body when you’re pregnant and so many things going through your mind about what to think about and you have all these questions when you go to your prenatal visits to ask your doctor.
I’m sure teeth are the last thing on your mind and so a lot of what we’re talking about today doesn’t get discussed at those appointments. I’m glad we’re clearing the air and just letting people know a few important things to look out for and mostly ways to prevent any issues during your pregnancy with your dental health.
Heidi Godman: Absolutely. As I mentioned earlier in the program, I have 3 children and none of this occurred to me. I would just go to my dentist when I needed to go. It didn’t occur to me but all of those hormones, surging through your body. What do they do to your teeth or your gums?
Dr. Allison Konick: Everything is exacerbated when you’re pregnant. You’ve got a lot more progesterone and estrogen going around. It’s not that all of a sudden now your gums are misbehaving. It’s your body naturally has certain bacteria in it especially in your mouth.
There’s a lot of bacteria that are good and there are some that are bad. Since your body is making all of these extra hormones, there’s just a heightened response to all that. That’s normally going on.
If you’re not careful about it or taking care of the way that you should that can have an adverse effect where it over treats what’s going on in there. Your hormones get a little too active and then you can end up having some discomfort or swelling of the gum tissue and things like that.
Heidi Godman: Now, swelling of the gum tissue, does that mean that you could also have some loose teeth?
Dr. Allison Konick: You can. All of the ligaments, everything kind of relaxes when you’re preparing for child birth and your body. The mouth is no different your teeth are in there with the periodontal ligament around them which is holding things in place.
I think that maybe more on the extreme end if you’re going to have lose teeth during pregnancy, that’s probably something if you had been regularly seeing your dentist we could have avoided.
It’s certainly possible if there’s been issues beforehand because now everything is on a heightened response. If things are loosening up in there of course your teeth can be a part of that as well.
Heidi Godman: That is very scary. You’re also talking about the gums and I would guess maybe gingivitis is a problem. You were talking about the bacteria.
Dr. Allison Konick: Exactly. We do have a little term that we say pregnancy gingivitis when it’s a pregnant woman who has gingivitis. If you really boil it down to what you’re looking for, clinically the gingivitis is gingivitis. For everyone who doesn’t know it that is it’s just that your gum tissue becomes inflamed.
It’s red, it’s a little swollen, it bleeds very easily and around at the neck of the teeth where the gum tissue meets that it will have a more of a red color. When you floss or brush you’re going to see more bleeding. When you’re pregnant you find that that happens more frequently.
Just because I was saying earlier with the extra hormones and everything, everything is just in such a heightened sense that the irritation and the inflammation happen a lot quicker in pregnancy than they would if you were not.
Heidi Godman: The symptoms, the redness and the blood. If you floss your teeth and there’s a little bit of blood there, that means that you have gingivitis?
Dr. Allison Konick: Correct.
Heidi Godman: It happens more if you’re pregnant. Why do you have blood there? What’s happening with the bacteria?
Dr. Allison Konick: The bacteria are supposed to be there when they’re good. Sometimes there’s bacteria that you don’t get cleaned off if you’re not staying on top of your hygiene especially being pregnant. You’d always say, “Oh, I have pregnancy brain. I forget things.”
You probably forgot to brush your teeth a couple times or floss and so the bacteria are staying in place around the teeth and the plaque which is that little white substance you can get off when you floss in between the teeth.
That’s staying there and that’s aggravating the gum tissue because it forms when there’s too much bacteria on the teeth and it adheres there. That’s the importance of brushing and flossing to remove all that bad bacteria out of your mouth and keep the mouth healthy.
Heidi Godman: What is it that makes the gums bleed when you do floss if you have gingivitis?
Dr. Allison Konick: It’s just from the inflammation there because the gum tissue is responding to the plaque in the bacterial challenge of the mouth. When you’re flossing the gum tissues inflame so everything, the capillaries that are part of that, everything else is bigger and more bulging if you think about it than it was before.
When you disturb that or you irritate it even though the floss is intended to clean it and help, it’s still causing a reaction of the tissue.
Heidi Godman: I am such a good flossier. I’m a serial flossier.
Dr. Allison Konick: You will be now.
Heidi Godman: I am. I’m just telling that I’m really, really good about it. What about diagnosis though? If you are seeing some of these symptoms and you think this might be me. What do you do? You go to your dentist and how will the dentist diagnose it? Can you just look at someone’s mouth and say, “Oh yeah, gingivitis”?
Dr. Allison Konick: Yeah, definitely. You can see a big difference. In our office we have an inter-oral camera and we take pictures of your teeth and your gums. It’s nice to be able to do that because you can’t really see up close like that when you’re looking in the mirror and flossing your own teeth. There’s a big difference between a healthy mouth and a mouth with gingivitis.
Heidi Godman: Tell me about that camera a little bit more. When you say that you can see the gums and the teeth, what do you see in the photos?
Dr. Allison Konick: It’s similar to a regular camera that you would have but it’s made almost to look like a wand. At the end that we would insert it to your mouth is where the lens of that camera is. On the one part, there’s a button. We just push the button then it takes a photo and it’s instantly uploaded right in front of us.
We have a screen at your chair and it helps tremendously to explain to patients here’s what I’m seeing. I can talk about it all day but if a picture can help you to see what it is clearly with my explanation then it’s great and it’s very useful for that.
Heidi Godman: That is such a wonderful idea. What is the patient’s reaction when you say, “Okay. This thing I’m seeing in your mouth, this is what it is.”
Dr. Allison Konick: They’re always like, “Oh my God, is that me?”
Heidi Godman: Hard to believe. There it is in living color. We are talking about dental health during pregnancy. At the moment, we’re talking about gingivitis. This is Health Check with Heidi Godman and my guest today is Dr. Allison Konick from BayView Dental Associates.
Allison is telling is that sometimes in pregnancy you might be more prone to get gingivitis. The hormones surging through your body can make everything a little bit more sensitive and can cause the gingivitis or maybe you forget to brush once or twice and you might be more likely to get it.
One you’ve diagnosed it, Allison, what is treatment? Is there anything you can do right there in the office?
Dr. Allison Konick: Definitely. Gingivitis is probably the best thing that’s going to happen to you if you’re going to have something wrong with your gum tissue. The reason that I say that is because although it is an inflammation and somewhat of an infection of your gum tissue, it’s completely 100% reversible.
If we can clean your teeth professionally to get under the gum line or remove all the spec to your end and the plaque that’s accumulated there and then just instruct you on how to take care of your teeth better at home with more flossing. Maybe your technique is off.
Maybe you’re not brushing in the areas that where the gum tissue is inflamed. You’re just not getting in the right position with your toothbrush. A combination of seeing the hygienist at the office to have your teeth professionally cleaned and a little bit of instruction we can completely reverse this.
Heidi Godman: That’s very encouraging. How long does it take to reverse it?
Dr. Allison Konick: It can be pretty quickly actually because the inflammatory response is only there as a really … I say response because the bacteria is there. Once the bacteria is removed and we’ve created a cleaner oral environment then the gum tissue will respond to that.
Heidi Godman: What if you aren’t on the ball and you let the gingivitis get out of hand? What are the risks?
Dr. Allison Konick: There’s a lot of risks involved with that and particularly with being pregnant. There’s also a condition called the pregnancy tumor of your gum tissue that can occur where if you have this pregnancy gingivitis and it’s not treated then the gum tissue continues to become more and more inflamed in certain areas that can actually cause a little bubble on your gum tissue that can become irritable to you while it’s in there.
That’s one thing and then more commonly whether you’re pregnant or not if you leave your gingivitis untreated, because of all the inflammation of the gum tissue, what’s underneath the gum tissue, the bone that holds your teeth in place.
If your gum tissue is responding to an inflammation it’s trying to pull away from that. It’s going to want to come down past where the teeth … where it normally sits on the teeth. Because of that, you don’t see anyone having bone above their gum.
It lives below it. If the gum tissue goes down then the bone is going to go as well. That leads us into what’s called periodontal disease which is actually a non-reversible process.
Heidi Godman: Non-reversible. That’s pretty scary so everybody listening, you need to try and prevent gingivitis so you don’t get in to this mess. What is the best way to do it? You’re saying good dental health and get your teeth cleaned. How often do you need to get your teeth cleaned?
Dr. Allison Konick: It really depends for everyone. I would say if you have a normal, healthy mouth, you have never been told that you have periodontal issues then every 6 months is just fine. Sometimes if you have had some bone loss, we’re going to recommend that we see you every 3 months.
That’s just to stay on top of the bacteria that are causing the disease process to progress so that we can maintain things without losing any more bone around the teeth.
Heidi Godman: What about flossing? What about brushing? If you have gingivitis, is there anything that you should do differently?
Dr. Allison Konick: I would say just more frequent flossing because initially it’s almost sounds counterintuitive. If you floss then the gums bleed. It’s scary that their bleeding originally and the reason they’re bleeding is because you didn’t floss. It’s almost like this vicious cycle.
One you floss and you’re doing it every day for a few days, you’ll see that you’re bleeding a lot less often. Then once the gum tissue is not as inflamed anymore, instead of being red and swollen it will be firm and pink.
Then it’s better adhered to the teeth because there’s no plaque or bacteria that are causing it to pull away. Flossing daily is definitely the best way if you’d have gingivitis or you do have it to reverse that.
Heidi Godman: Any tips on flossing? Should you do it at night, in the morning?
Dr. Allison Konick: I certainly would say that at night is a better time to do it. A lot of patients even ask it a step further should I brush and then floss or floss and then brush? I personally recommend that they would floss their teeth and then brush their teeth because if you’re flossing you’re going in between the teeth where the bristles of the brush can’t get.
That way you’ve cleaned them out then your toothbrush can get in there and do all the work.
Heidi Godman: You loosen the crud and then get ready. Fantastic. We are going to take a quick break for news and weather but much more when we come back. We’ll talk about the impact of morning sickness on your dental health. This is Health Check on WSRQ. I’m Heidi Godman.
Heidi Godman: Welcome back to Health Check. I’m Heidi Godman. If you’re just joining us my guest today is Dr. Allison Konick of BayView Dental Associates. If you can’t guess from the music, we’ve been talking about pregnancy and dental health. Of course one aspect of pregnancy for some women is morning sickness. Allison, I’ll bet that has very acidic impact on oral health.
Dr. Allison Konick: It sure does. Luckily I can say I wouldn’t know because I’ve been lucky to get through the pregnancy without actually having any morning sickness. Certainly, from being having nausea and then any vomiting that comes or as a result of the morning sickness that is a very acidic. All your stomach acids are coming up and into your mouth. That does create a big problem as far as keeping the teeth clean and healthy.
Heidi Godman: You normally in your mouth have a certain pH balance. For people who aren’t familiar with it, what is pH balance?
Dr. Allison Konick: pH is just a measure of the acid content in anything. In your mouth, we like to keep that neutral and the whole pH scale goes anywhere from 1 to 14 so 7 is right about in the middle. That’s where we would ideally like your mouth to be.
If you have something acidic, then if you have lemonade or a soda or coffee, anything with sugar in it, that is going to drop the pH which in other words just means that it’s going to cause more acidic environment in your mouth.
Heidi Godman: Plus if you’re expecting and you do have morning sickness as you’re saying, the vomit that comes up has quite a bit of acid in it.
Dr. Allison Konick: Yes, it does.
Heidi Godman: The impact of that must be terrible?
Dr. Allison Konick: Yeah. It’s pretty damaging to the teeth if left untreated. The nice thing about it is that it’s obviously after that happens you want to run right to the bathroom and brush your teeth. That’s the important thing to do. If you’re out to work and you don’t have access to brush your teeth just even rinsing your mouth out with water just to cleanse all that acidity off of the teeth that will help to try to neutralize the pH again.
Heidi Godman: Why do you need to neutralize the pH and get the acid off of your teeth? What does it do to them?
Dr. Allison Konick: The acid is really the environment that the bacteria that we talked about earlier. That’s what they thrive in. The lower the pH, the more active the bad bacteria in your mouth is going to be.
When that happens, then with all the bad bacteria are living in your mouth that means that it’s going to attack the teeth and cause problems like eroding the enamel or that outer protective layer of your tooth away which can cause some serious problems to eventually even lead to pain, decay or the cavity forms becomes too deep.
Heidi Godman: Cavities. Let’s talk about those because we’ve all heard about cavities when we were little. That was the big risk of having too much candy and all that stuff. Officially, what is a cavity?
Dr. Allison Konick: The cavity is any damage to structure that leads to the loss of the healthy tooth structure, the enamel, the dentin. If you think of a cavity, you think of a hole and that’s what people think of as I have a hole in my tooth. A cavity isn’t always a hole in your tooth either.
You may have one and you don’t even have a hole in your tooth because the enamel is so strong on the outside from all the fluoride that we get in the foods that we eat and water even, everything has fluoride these days. If the bacteria penetrate through that outside layer of your tooth you can still have a cavity that’s inside your tooth that you don’t see.
Heidi Godman: You might not even feel it?
Dr. Allison Konick: Correct.
Heidi Godman: What’s happening with the bacteria? Are they eating through it or what are they doing?
Dr. Allison Konick: Pretty much they’re just eating.
Heidi Godman: We’re the prey and they’re eating through it?
Dr. Allison Konick: Yeah.
Heidi Godman: You might now have a symptom, if you did have a symptom of a cavity, what would it be?
Dr. Allison Konick: Everybody is different. You may feel it. Maybe it feels a little different to your tongue when you run over there. You may have some pain when you’re flossing or from that tooth where the cavity is. The pain is really more concerning to me because if you had a cavity then …
The good thing is if you have a cavity usually I don’t want you to know because that means that’s small enough that we can fix it pretty easily. If it’s big and it’s hurting then a lot of times it’s not just something that’s so simple to be able to put a filling into your tooth. We usually have to do a lot more work to save your tooth.
Heidi Godman: You many senses in pregnancy are heightened so smell and taste, they’re heightened. What about tooth pain?
Dr. Allison Konick: Everything is on high-alert when you’re expecting. You may become more susceptible to pain in your mouth just like you would anywhere else. It’s important to emphasize prevention in this case because we can allow you to have the road map to take care of the teeth before you’re pregnant or at certain times during your pregnancy where we can take care of these things without having you have to go through the experience of pain.
If you’re pregnant, that’s the last thing you want us to be in pain because everything that you’re going through then so is your little baby. If we can keep things as calm and copasetic as we can for you then that would be ideal for everyone.
Heidi Godman: How do you discover a cavity? How do you diagnose that? Especially in pregnant person, how do you go about that?
Dr. Allison Konick: Typically, we diagnose the cavity off of an x-ray that’s why we take them when you come in because I tell my patients I pray for x-ray vision for every night but I still haven’t got it yet. We need to use this machine but in all the offices that BayView Dental, the x-rays are digital.
They’re 10 to 20% of the radiation that use to exist when there were the films with the big machines that would come and take the x-rays. A very low dose of radiation is used to get the picture that we need to be able to see in between your teeth. That’s t really the whole reason that we take x-rays to see what we can’t see when we just look in your mouth with our own eyes.
Heidi Godman: You’re saying that’s a low dose amount of radiation. Is that safe in pregnancy?
Dr. Allison Konick: It is if we need to. A lot of times we will try to avoid the x-rays during pregnancy. Not that it would be harmful because like I said, it’s a very low dose. We have a lead apron that we would wear that would protect your baby from almost all if not the majority of the x-rays that would be scattered if any.
Because we’re using digital, because we’re using a certain tube head which takes the x-ray, there is very, very little radiation that’s going anywhere else but to the tooth that we need to see. We usually will try to avoid the x-rays in the beginning of pregnancy just because there’s a lot of fetal development going on.
It would be safe but it’s just more of a precaution and a courtesy to the pregnant mother that we don’t want you to have to worry about anything. We can usually ideally let us know when you’re planning on having your pregnancy that way we can get you in and we can do an exam and we can get all those things out on the table before they even would become an issue during your pregnancy.
Heidi Godman: We are talking about dental health during pregnancy. This Health Check with Heidi Godman on WSRQ and my guest today is Dr. Allison Konick from BayView Dental Associates who’s also expecting her first baby, a beautiful, little girl who’s going to be born in a few months.
Some women you’re saying Allison, might opt to wait in the x-rays if they’re pregnant. What if you have something important going on, can you go ahead and take care of it right then?
Dr. Allison Konick: Yeah. If it’s an emergency, the doctor is going to want to be able to treat you. I don’t want my patients have to be in pain and when you think of the risk of letting something go that you’re going to be in pain and have this process going on in your body then the bacteria of your mouth aren’t just staying in your mouth, they’re going everywhere.
If we have the cavity, if we have an abscess all these different things that can happen that bacteria is going to be able to cross the placenta and even affect the baby. Like we had talked about earlier with periodontitis, gingivitis, all that bacteria.
Some studies even shown that having periodontitis and carrying a child is what leads to preterm labor and low birth weights and things like that. There’s definitely something to be said for taking care of what’s going on in your mouth and getting it to a neutral pH where we can have healthy oral environment.
Heidi Godman: That alone is a great motivator for prevention so obviously flossing is important so as brushing. Are there any type of toothpaste you should stop using in pregnancy?
Dr. Allison Konick: I would say that the main thing here there’s a big debate on fluoride during pregnancy, certain preservatives and chemicals that are found in different types of toothpaste and things like that. I think the important thing to keep in mind with the toothpaste is that we’re using it topically.
We’re really placing it on the teeth and the gum tissue and then you expect rate. You spit that out into the sink. You’re not ingesting a large volume of it. Because there’s fluoride in everything, there’s no way that you’re going to overdose just from your toothpaste.
I think the benefit of having the fluoride in the toothpaste and having that close contact to the teeth are out ways in any of the risk that have been discussed about what it could potentially do to you or your child. I think too, just keeping up with your oral hygiene where you’re brushing twice a day or flossing, that’s going to get everything in your mouth healthy and that’s going to overall keep your body healthier as well.
Heidi Godman: You were telling me during the break that some of your patients need to be taught how to floss because even though they’re flossing they’re not quite doing it the right way in effective way. Tell us.
Dr. Allison Konick: A lot of times, a patient if I hand them a piece of floss they may just snap it right through and snap it back out while that is achieving sort of what we want because you’re going to be able to get some of the plaque off of your teeth. The main thing with flossing is be a little more gentle.
They get it in between the teeth and then glide it a little beneath the gum line. Think about it like a C shape where you’re hugging the neck of the tooth and going down under the gum a little. That’ll stimulate the gum tissues. Before with the gingivitis factor if you have that, that’s when you may have a little bit of bleeding.
After a few days or week or so of doing that, you’re going to notice that it’s not bleeding anymore because you’ve effectively cleaned out what was there. If you just snapped right through the middle and come right back out you’re leaving behind and below where the bacteria is thriving. You want to make sure you’re hugging the tooth with their floss.
Heidi Godman: When I floss, I think of the tooth on the left, the tooth on the right then do it again move to the next place, do it on the left, do it on the right. It’s very important to brush and to floss and to try and prevent dental problems before they occur. There are a lot of other issues that we need to start talking about too.
We’re going do that in just a minute. We need to take a quick break. We will continue talking about pregnancy and dental health with Dr. Allison Konick from BayView Dental Associates, a dental office in Sarasota, FL with five locations. This is Health Check on WSRQ, I’m Heidi Godman.
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Heidi Godman: Welcome back to Health Check. I’m Heidi Godman. I love all the baby music. Bridgette O’Brien, our producer, thank you so much. That’s so fantastic and the wonderful Jon Hanson back there doing a great job with that.
Also doing a wonderful job of educating us about dental health during pregnancy is my guest, Dr. Allison Konick, a dentist in Sarasota, Florida with BayView Dental Associates. We’ve been talking about how to take care of your dental health when you’re expecting a child.
Allison has told us that your hormones, can create all kinds of issues for you and change the acidity of the mouth if you have morning sickness or affect your gums and things that you need to know about. Allison, it seems so much of dental health during pregnancy has do with prevention. I bet diet is just a huge part of that.
Dr. Allison Konick: Sure it is. When you first find out that you’re pregnant, they talk to you about don’t overeat, you’re not really eating for 2. You only need a few extra 100 calories a day and stay healthy and all that. A longhand with that comes that your pregnant and sometimes you get cravings.
A lot of times those cravings are for the not so healthy foods like sugary things. You want ice cream or you just want to go and get a big glass of lemonade. Those arte mine anyway.
Heidi Godman: With one of my kids it was a frosty from Wendy’s which is not a very healthy thing to have. I would call up to the assignment desk. I was at the TV station and I would not let anyone see me but I’d call the assignment manager and say, “Do we have a free photographer who is out and about and can pick up a frosty for me?”
I just needed that. I don’t drink them now. No offense, Wendy’s. I just needed that kind of a thing. Are there any drinks that you should avoid? I mean, obviously alcohol but are there any other things you should avoid to protect the health of your teeth?
Dr. Allison Konick: A lot of the sugary beverages like that, very high acidity that we were talking about. Anything with the sugar will have a high acidity which means that it’s going to make your pH very low in your mouth and help you stimulate this whole bacterial process so a lot of sugary beverages.
The other thing that’s hard with that too is with fruit juices. They’re very nutritious so you want to have them for that part of it but then afterwards that’s where the crocks of the issue is that if you have them, they’re sugary so what we want you to do is just drink them and get them done.
Don’t sit there all day long and sip on your big glass of lemonade or your Coke if you’re not pregnant. What’s happening there is every time that you take a sip of that acidic beverage, you’re reintroducing that low pH environment to your mouth. You’re just basically letting the bacteria have a field day.
Where if you were to sit and just drink your drink and then go and brush your teeth or rinse your mouth out with water, then that converts everything back to being neutral again and you’re back on the level playing field where your mouth is not prone to get more bacteria and more decay.
Heidi Godman: Very good advice. Also you should try and look out for a place where you might not suspect to have a big glass of iced tea in front of me right now. I don’t put lemon in it but if I did and I were sipping on it all day long as you’re saying, the acidity of the lemon and the sugar could be a problem?
Dr. Allison Konick: Yes, it could.
Heidi Godman: Are there any foods that you should avoid for that reason?
Dr. Allison Konick: It’s along the same lines with foods, with sugary candies, ice cream, things like that.
Heidi Godman: Frosty.
Dr. Allison Konick: Right. We’re not saying don’t. It’s funny but I feel like every dental office, everybody that works there has a sweet tooth. We’re to blame as well but it’s just more if you’re going to have it, go ahead and do it. Don’t have it over the whole long course of a time period. Have it, enjoy it and then afterwards is the important part because it’s what lingers behind that really causes the issue, not so much the while you’re eating it.
Heidi Godman: It’s important to get your teeth cleaned. We’ve talked about this. Typically it’s every 6 months but tell us again in pregnancy how often you should be doing this?
Dr. Allison Konick: That still holds true for being pregnant. Ideally we would like you to be treated during your second trimester of your pregnancy just because that’s the lowest risk and you’re more comfortable at that time. You’re not having the first trimester where you’re nervous about all these things that are going on your body or at the third trimester where you can be uncomfortable.
The second trimester is best if it can timeout that way to do your cleaning. Then another thing which I just learned even is that some dental insurance plans will allow for an extra cleaning while you’re pregnant because I think they finally have caught on to the issues that the hormones are causing when you’re pregnant not just in everything else but in your mouth.
If we can get in and have another preventive cleaning where we can really help you out to keep things healthy in there then by all means take advantage of that.
Heidi Godman: Right. It’s going to be more cost effective in the long run. What should you tell your dental hygienist when you first get there?
Dr. Allison Konick: Obviously as soon as you know that you’re expecting, it’s important for us to know because we’re not really going to treat you any differently but there’s certain things that we want to be able to make you comfortable. If there’s things that you’re concerned about am I getting x-rays today. Is the doctor going to see me.
Sometimes you come in and you just do it for your cleaning and maybe not an exam but maybe you want one on that day because you’re nervous about the stuff that I just talk to you about. Any concerns that you’re having obviously we have a medical history but if there’s been any changes, which clearly there has because you’ve become pregnant.
That’s an important thing for us to know if anything has changed as far as things that you found that you’re allergic to being pregnant too. Some women have aversions to things. Maybe there’s a certain smell or taste that you really just can’t tolerate now. God forbid that’s what we’re using as your paste that we’re going to clean your teeth with.
Just thinking outside the box and let us know any concerns that you may have, any questions that you have for the doctor or the hygienist about being pregnant.
Heidi Godman: You are saying that you want the mom to be comfortable lying back in the dental chair. Is there a point in the pregnancy where you shouldn’t be lying back?
Dr. Allison Konick: Yes, definitely as you’re getting into the third trimester I which I will be soon so I’ll be able to speak for that then. It becomes really uncomfortable to lie on your back and even at my last appointment because I was in my second trimester.
They want me to lay on my left side a lot. That’s just to keep things the way that they are and keep you comfortable and the baby comfortable and everything.
Heidi Godman: That’s great. I didn’t know that you can do that. You could lie on the side and have a dentist probably not usually.
Dr. Allison Konick: Not usually.
Heidi Godman: To make an exception.
Dr. Allison Konick: The thing too with that is you could do that but I would say probably better to avoid that whole situation because it’s uncomfortable for you. It’s uncomfortable for a dentist to try to torque yourself around to get into that position.
In the second trimester, is probably the best time because then you’re not uncomfortable lying back. Everything is going steady in your pregnancy. We can get you cleaned up and ready to go into your third trimester where you won’t be uncomfortable.
If you are coming during your third trimester another thing too, we have pillows in the office. You can bring one. Just something to keep you comfortable if you’ve got something at home that works well for you.
Heidi Godman: So many things to remember about dental health during pregnancy. It seems like it would be a good idea to talk to your dentist when you’re developing your birthing plan with your obstetrician that go over your dentist office and say what should we do differently?
Dr. Allison Konick: Definitely. I think that’s the key and it’s probably the most missed point because you don’t think about your teeth when you’re thinking about having a baby. There’s so much to be said about prevention. Even with people who have dental insurance, a lot of times they cover the preventive things.
When it gets really bad and we have to do a lot more work to the tooth that’s when they don’t start covering it. It’s almost counterintuitive because people will wait until it gets bad to come to the dentist and then they have to end up participating in that payment plan because the insurance will only cover a portion.
If you’re coming early on and were able to add the x-rays and do the exam and make any diagnosis, a lot of times if we find things early we can very simply fix them and its usually a procedure that would be covered by your insurance.
Heidi Godman: Wonderful. You’re saying earlier it’s okay if you have some fluoride in your toothpaste. It’s just topical. What about other topical treatments like teeth whitening or fluoride treatments that you apply? Is that okay in pregnancy?
Dr. Allison Konick: I would hold off on any elective treatment during pregnancy. Just not that I think it would be harmful really, it’s just a matter that there’s no studies to say whether it is or it isn’t. Whitening is certainly something that’s elective.
You’re already glowing enough on your pregnancy so we can wait until after the baby to whiten the teeth. There’s a lot of different chemicals in there and you may ingest some of that. I would hold off on that. With the fluoride at least I know in our office we use a varnish.
It was similar to the toothpaste that I was talking about earlier. It’s a topically delivered way of getting the fluoride just to the teeth. You’re not taking a pill or getting a hold big gulp of fluoride down your throat from a tray that’s sitting in your mouth with the suction.
You just paint it on and it sits on the teeth and it’s important to keep the enamel nice and healthy and keep the teeth in good shape during your pregnancy.
Heidi Godman: Thank you so very much for all of this incredible information. If people would like to come and meet you and wish you well and become your patients or just find out more information, how can they do that? Do you have a way we can contact you?
Dr. Allison Konick: Yes. I’m at the Arlington Street dental office. It’s 1880 Arlington Street right here in Sarasota. If you’re interested in BayView we have 5 offices and all the doctors are great so you can go online to Bayviewdental.com and see our pictures and read our bios. Please call my office to make an appointment at 953-4288.
Heidi Godman: Say it again, 953 …
Dr. Allison Konick: 953-4288.
Heidi Godman: Dr. Allison Konick. Thank you and congratulations to you and your husband.
Dr. Allison Konick: Thank you so much. Thanks for having me here.
Heidi Godman: Thank you everybody for tuning in. This has been a wonderful show. I’m Heidi Godman. My producer today has been the brilliant, Bridgette O’Brien and John Hanson helped her too. This is Health Check on WSRQ. I’m Heidi Godman. Thanks for listening.