Is Dental Work Safe During Pregnancy?

shutterstock_144260533Yes, most dental procedures are perfectly safe while you are pregnant!

Pregnancy is full of health questions, not just about yourself, but about the baby that you’re growing. We believe that pregnancy should be a time of joy, not a time of worry. So let’s get some of those dental questions off your mind.

Pregnancy is only nine months, can’t I just be a few months late on my bi-annual cleaning?
Absolutely not. You are actually more likely to experience dental problems when you are pregnant. Pregnancy Gingivitis is caused by the changing hormone levels in your body. Any change in these levels allows bacteria to thrive in your mouth and gums. And thriving bacteria means increased periodontal disease. If you notice any tenderness, bleeding, or gum swelling, contact your dentist as soon as possible.
Morning sickness is also a concern to your oral health. Stomach acid from the nausea and vomiting common during the first trimester rapidly breaks down the protective enamel of your teeth. Try using a bland toothpaste if brushing your teeth is triggering your gag reflex. And always make sure to rinse your mouth with water or (preferably) mouthwash after a bout of vomiting.
Preventative dental treatments, exams, and check-ups are critical in order to avoid infections that have been linked to preterm birth.

Does my dentist need to know I’m pregnant?
Absolutely! We need to know about any changes that you’re going through. Pay close attention to anything that seems different in your mouth and let us know when you come in. We also need to know about any medications and pre-natal vitamins you may be taking as they affect your dental plan or interact with prescriptions that we might need to provide you for any infections or pain management.

Are procedures like root canals and fillings safe?
If at all possible, procedures like this should be done during the second trimester. The first and third trimesters are the most critical times during a baby’s development and it’s wise to take as few risks possible during this time. The second trimester is generally considered to be the most comfortable – relatively free of morning sickness and body discomfort.
Lidocaine is a Category B drug and can be safely used in small amounts. The most important thing during dental work is your comfort though. When you are uncomfortable that causes your body stress and that stress is shared by your baby. So if you’re pain free then the procedure will be safer for everyone involved. There are many antibiotics that are also Category B that can be prescribed after your treatment. Penicillin, amoxicillin and clindamycin are all considered to be safe during pregnancy.
All elective treatments such as teeth whitening should wait until after you deliver your baby.
Of course if you have an emergency then it can’t wait. But we will do our best to minimize any risks. The consequences of not treating an infection are far worse the risks presented by treatment.

Are X-rays safe while I’m pregnant?
Routine x-rays can usually be postponed until after birth. But if you have an emergency an x-ray might be necessary. According to the American College of Radiology, no single diagnostic x-ray has a radiation dose significant enough to cause adverse effects in a developing embryo or fetus. Advances in x-ray technology have made them far safer than in previous decades. But, if an x-ray is needed to proceed with your care, a lead apron should cover your body to add extra protection for you and your baby. You can never be too safe.

Proper oral care should be an integral part of your pregnancy plan. Make sure that you get your regular cleaning, treat any problems as soon as you notice them, brush regularly, and try to eat a healthy diet with plenty of calcium.