Dental procedures vary from a simple teeth cleaning procedure to root canal or even oral surgery. Since having a baby is a very special time and mothers everywhere are more cautious than ever, they now have double the responsibility on what they eat, their supplements and overall health.
Pregnancy causes hormonal changes and some of these changes can affect your gums that can lead to a higher risk of developing gum diseases. Hence good dental health is essential for your overall well-being. This makes it important for the baby too!
Let’s uncover the myths of what treatments you can do and the ones you can’t before the pregnancy and during the pregnancy.
Before the Pregnancy
It is highly advisable to go to the dentist for a regular checkup before the pregnancy. You can use this time for a professional teeth cleaning session, and your gums can be carefully examined. After all, according to recent research, a woman’s oral health can affect how long it takes for her to conceive.
Any other procedures such as cavity fillings can also be taken care of before your baby is born. Imagine having a wisdom tooth removal procedure pending only to have it hurt during the entire pregnancy. And then you may have to when the baby is born, do you really want to go through the excruciating tooth-ache along with the other body changes you’re experiencing?
During the Pregnancy
Although it is recommended to have as little dental work done as possible, it is still important to do for regular checkups, to ensure that there are no issues with the gums due to hormonal imbalances. Your dentist will also make recommendations to your oral hygiene routine and recommend the best course of action if you require any treatments.
Incase of emergency dental procedures, x-rays are necessary in most cases. For example, in the case of a chipped tooth. However, routine x-rays can be postponed after the pregnancy to avoid any exposure of radiation to the developing baby.
It is good to note that modern dental x-ray machines use extremely low doses of radiation and a single x-ray is usually not high enough to cause any drastic effects to the developing child. However, according to ADA and ACOG, with adequate shielding, a dental x-ray is safe during pregnancy and most dentists will provide you with an apron and a thyroid guard.
Many women are more comfortable with dental work during the second trimester but avoid it during the first as that is the most vulnerable period of the pregnancy. Some women also start an Invisalign treatment during the second trimester after the morning sickness has gone for which an initial dental x ray will be required.
Elective Dental Treatments
Elective dental treatments like tooth whitening, replacement of amalgam restorations should be postponed as to avoid any risk to the baby – even though the risk may be minimal. If you still want to go through with it, it is recommended that it be completed within the 2nd trimester – between 14 – 20 weeks time.
In any case, it is recommended that you consult with your dentist as they would be able to best advise you keeping in mind your dental health and history. For example, even the application of porcelain veneers is considered safe during pregnancy however many dentists wait till after the baby is conceived.
Invasive Dental Procedures
In cases, where a root canal or a tooth extraction becomes necessary – these should not be avoided as they could cause more harm during the pregnancy and affect the baby.
For example, if you have any cavities that need fillings or crowns, these should be taken care of during the second trimester to reduce any chance of infection since it gets difficult to lie on your back for an extended amount of time in the third trimester.
If a dental procedure is required, the extent of the use of anesthesia must be administered with precaution but enough to be used to make one comfortable.
If you’re experiencing pain or discomfort, you may request for numbing. It is important that you feel comfortable during the procedure. This will reduce the stress on both you and the baby and the anesthesia used will perform better.
Although, there are many contradicting beliefs regarding the effects on a developing baby from the medications that are used during dental procedures, certain medications like Lidocaine (Category B) do reach the placenta.
Avoid the anaesthetics that contain chemicals such as felypressin as it constricts the blood vessels. This can cause extreme stress to your body and the developing baby.
Since the use of any medication during pregnancy is such a sensitive topic, always inform your dentist of your pregnancy and how long it has been. It is also important you check with your dentist if you have any concerns regarding the different types of anaesthetics they use.
Many dental procedures require you to take antibiotics to treat possible infections. Since this is common, you must ensure to inform your dentist of your pregnancy so he may recommend antibiotics that are safe to use during pregnancy. Penicillin, Amoxicillin, and Clindamycin, which are labelled safe for pregnant women (Category B) can be taken after your dental procedure. Saying this, it is also recommended that you reconfirm with the pharmacist.
Regardless of how invasive or minimal the dental procedure may be, it is always recommended to consult with your dentist. It is essential that they are provided with all the crucial information regarding your pregnancy.