Taking care of your body while you are pregnant is important, and that includes taking care of your teeth. The hormonal changes your body undergoes during pregnancy can cause irritation to your gums, such as bleeding and swelling. Increased hormone levels combined with a lack of oral care can cause gum disease. Oral infections, such as gum disease, can affect your health as well as the health of your growing baby. These infections have even been linked to premature birth. That is why it is important to take care of your teeth and gums, particularly when you are expecting. Going to the dentist while you are pregnant is not unsafe, and it is recommended that expectant mothers receive annual cleanings. The second trimester is the ideal time to have routine dental cleanings performed. Many of the baby's organs are being developed during the first trimester, so it is best to avoid any dental procedures that may pose a risk to your developing baby. During the third trimester, dental work is usually delayed until after birth to avoid premature labor and back pain from lying down for a long period of time. Additionally, it is wise to avoid optional dental procedures and oral X-rays during pregnancy. If you must receive an oral X-ray, be sure to tell your dentist that you are pregnant. This way they will be sure to use extra caution when performing your X-ray. Today, X-rays are much safer than they were in previous years, so don't feel hesitant if you must receive an X-ray while you are pregnant.