Our pregnant patients often as us, “Is it safe to have dental work during pregnancy?” As far as dental cleanings and annual exams are concerned, those are perfectly safe to have during pregnancy. In fact, we recommend having them done specifically because of the way hormonal changes affect the gums during pregnancy.
During pregnancy, certain hormone levels rise, causing the gums to become swollen and even bleed. These hormonal changes not only affect the gums, but they cause food to become trapped, which causes further gum irritation. According to the American Pregnancy Association, “Preventative dental work while pregnant is essential to avoid oral infections such as gum disease, which has been linked to preterm birth.”
Can I Get Regular Dental Work?
Generally, we perform the above types of dental work on a pregnant woman when they’re necessary to treat an existing infection or reduce the chance of one from occurring. If dental work must be done while a woman is pregnant, it’s best to do it during the second trimester.
Once a pregnant woman is in her third trimester, it’s very difficult for her to lie on her back for an extended length of time. Not only that, but most obstetricians urge women in their third trimester not to because it stresses the baby.
As a general rule, if a pregnant woman can safely postpone her dental work until after the birth, it’s in her best interests. However, dental emergencies do occur and sometimes they happen when a woman is well into her second or third trimester.
Occasionally, it is in the patient’s best interests to perform a root canal or an emergency tooth extraction during pregnancy. This way, the threat of an infection can be quickly addressed before it affects the unborn child.
Elective treatments on the other hand, such as tooth whitening, or bonding should be postponed until after delivery. Basically, the purpose is to protect the baby from any toxic substances that may be harmful, even if the risks are minimal.
“Currently, there are conflicting studies about the possible adverse effects on the developing baby from medications used during dental work,” says the American Pregnancy Association. The Association goes on to say that Lidocaine, a medication that is commonly used in dental work, “does cross the placenta after administration.”
If you do end up needed dental work while pregnant, we recommend discussing it with your obstetrician. If you are given the “green light,” by your OB, be sure to inform your dentist that you’re are pregnant so he or she can use as little anesthesia as possible. However, you need enough medication so you are not in pain. When you’re under less stress, there’s less stress on the baby.
Looking for a Ventura dentist to treat you and your family? Contact us today to request a free consultation with Dr. Mark Weitzman D.D.S.