Is it safe to go to the dentist while pregnant? This is an important question that we are asked by patients of Pure Dental Arts who are expecting. We will take a look at the research first and discuss.
The latest research has shown that preventive, diagnostic, and restorative dentistry is safe for the pregnant patient, and that use of local anesthetics with epinephrine (lidocaine, mepivacaine, bucaine) is safe. According to the ADA and the American Congress of Obstreticians and Gynocologists, agree that in addition to the above accepted procedures, that emergency procedures such as fillings, root canals, or extractions can be safely done on a pregnant patient, and that delaying such treatment may lead to more complex problems that could potentially cause issues with the pregnancy.
During pregnancy, several oral health conditions are commonplace:
Gum issues: increased risk of gingivitis may arise as a result of changes in hormones that increase the immune response to bacteria in the gum tissue. This leads to chronic inflammation and potential for tissue destruction.
Cavities: Increased incidence of tooth decay can be due to increased cravings for snacks and high sugar foods, as well as increased acidity in the mouth due to possible nausea and vomiting, as well dry mouth, and/or poor hygiene due to fatigue and stress.
Pregnancy tumors: these are benign gum tumors that may develop on the gums as a result of hormonal/immune changes.
Tooth erosion: this is when the tooth surfaces get worn down, literally like rocks on a beach getting worn away by ocean waves over time. This typically occurs as a result of morning sickness, as the acid from the vomit will cause tooth destruction. Interestingly enough, the solution here is NOT to brush immediately after vomiting, as this may spread the acid around, but instead to rinse the mouth with water and baking soda in order to neutralize the acid.
The importance of daily oral hygiene needs to be emphasized to the pregnant patient. In other words, basics such as 1) brushing twice daily with a soft tooth brush for 2 minutes 2) using fluoride tooth pastes and rinses and 3) cleaning in between the teeth with floss, WaterPiks, or interproximal brushes.
There is a lot of research behind the relationship between gum disease, or periodontitis, and pregnancy outcomes. Researchers have established an association between periodontitis and low birthweight and/or preterm birth, as well pre-eclampsia. Even though a clear “cause and effect” has not been clearly established, it would be in the best interest of the expecting mother to undergo treatment for gum disease if she has it. Conservative treatments such as scaling and root planing (“deep cleaning”) can be safely done in this case.
As mentioned the use of typical dental anesthetics is acceptable. What about antibiotics? In this case we will defer to the patient’s OBGYN. However, it is recommended that the use of Nitrous Oxide (“Laughing Gas”) is to be avoided. Nitrous is classified as a pregnancy risk by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.
What about radiographs (x-rays)? The most current research shows that radiographs can be safely done at any stage of pregnancy! The only caveat is that proper thyroid and abdominal lead shielding be done for the pregnant patient.
In summary, being pregnant does not mean you have to avoid the dentist. In fact, doing so can complicate your pregnancy. If you are pregnant and would like to establish proper dental care, contact Pure Dental Arts at 2064868600 today! or book an online appointment
Favero V, Bacci C, Volpato A, Bandiera M, Favero L, Zanette G. Pregnancy and Dentistry: A Literature Review on Risk Management during Dental Surgical Procedures. Dent J (Basel). 2021 Apr 19;9(4):46. doi: 10.3390/dj9040046. PMID: 33921608; PMCID: PMC8072957