Dental Work

Routine dental cleanings during pregnancy are not only safe but are recommended. The hormone rise during pregnancy causes the gums to swell, bleed, and trap food causing increased irritation to your gums. Routine dental cleanings can help you have healthier gums during your pregnancy and help reduce irritation created by swelling.

What about other regular dental work during pregnancy?

Regular dental work such as cavity fillings should be postponed until at least after the first trimester, which is the most crucial time of development for the baby. If dental work is done during pregnancy, it is best during the second trimester. Once you reach the third trimester, it may be very difficult to lie on your back for an extended period of time, while dental work is done.

Elective treatments, such as teeth whitening and other cosmetic procedures should be postponed until after birth. There is no need to expose the developing baby to any risks, even if they are minimal.

Regular dental work is essential to avoid any oral infections such as gingivitis and periodontal disease. Oral infections may become systemic infections which can adversely affect the baby.

What about medications used in dental work during pregnancy? Currently, there are no studies documenting adverse affects on the developing baby from medications used during dental work. No problems have been identified when using local anesthetics such as Novocain or Lidocaine.

The amount of anesthesia administered should be as little as possible, but still enough to make you comfortable. If you are experiencing pain, request additional numbing. When you are comfortable, the amount of stress on you and the baby is reduced. Also the more comfortable you are, the easier it is for the anesthesia to work.

Dental work often requires antibiotics for preventing or treating infections. Antibiotics such as penicillin, amoxicillin, and clindamycin have shown to be acceptable during pregnancy, however you should avoid tetracycline.

Although there is little concern, the recommendation is to avoid dental work until after delivery just to be safe.

What about x-rays used in dental work during pregnancy?

The safest course is to postpone major dental work until after delivery. However, sometimes emergency dental work is needed such as root canals or extraction of wisdom teeth.

X-rays are necessary to perform these procedures, but they should be kept to a minimum. X-rays used in dental work raises little concern of potential exposure to the baby. If x-rays can not be postponed until after delivery, the second trimester is the best time to have these procedures done

Fetal organ development is occurring during the first trimester and it is best to avoid all potential risks at this time if possible. If dental work is needed during the third trimester, most major procedures will be postponed until after delivery. First to avoid the risk of premature labor, and second it can be rather challenging to lie on your back for that long.

Suggestions for Addressing Your Dental Needs During Pregnancy:

  • The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that pregnant women eat a balanced diet, brush their teeth thoroughly with an ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste twice a day, and floss daily.
  • Have routine exams and cleanings during your pregnancy.
  • Let your dentist know you are pregnant.
  • Postpone other regular dental work until the second trimester or until after delivery.
  • Elective procedures should be postponed until after delivery.
  • Help keep your circulation moving by keeping your legs uncrossed while you are sitting in the dentist's chair.
  • Take a pillow to help keep you and the baby more comfortable.
  • Bring headphones and some favorite music

Reprinted with permission from American Pregnancy Association