There’s a reason why female patients should
be forthcoming when pregnant
Eileen Morrissey, RDH
My 33-year-old female patient told me there were no changes in her medical history when I asked about any updates at her recare visit. I told her that since we had taken radiographs at her previous appointment and there were no apparent problems, we would not take x-rays today. She replied, “Good!” This patient normally has an excellent home-care presentation, and there is very little work for me to do at her cleanings.
As I looked at her mouth, these conditions appeared consistent. However, when I probed and performed her debridement, there was definitely more bleeding than usual. Something about her tissues seemed off. I found myself thinking about her three-year-old son and wondering when or if she and her husband were going to try for a sibling for little Joey. My intuition was speaking loud and clear, and I blurted, “Linda, is there any way you could be pregnant?” She looked at me in amazement and said, “How did you know that?”
I told her it was a hunch based on the bleeding I was seeing. She divulged that she was indeed 11 weeks into her pregnancy. Her reason for not sharing the information was that she and her husband had not yet told anyone, even family. When she saw that I was not going to take radiographs, she felt that she could keep the information to herself.
I explained why it is so important that we be made aware of any changes in our patients’ health histories. I took advantage of my newfound knowledge to educate her in whatever ways I could regarding all that is important in terms of prenatal oral care. She was still reeling from my discovery. I have to say I was shocked that someone who I have been treating on and off for six years would hold back such information. Now it makes me wonder how many times this has happened before with a pregnancy, or any condition for that matter. Probably more than I imagine. The recurrent theme among patients seems to be that nothing in the mouth has any connection to their systemic health.