There is a misconception among many expectant mothers that they shouldn’t go to the dentist during their pregnancy. Not only is this not true, it can also be harmful to your health and that of your unborn baby. Here’s what you need to know about getting dental work during pregnancy.
Is Dental Work During Pregnancy Safe?
The most common concern women have about going to the dentist while pregnant is the safety of different dental procedures. Will having their teeth cleaned send bacteria into their bloodstream? Can local anesthetic travel to a fetus? What about amalgam fillings?
According to the American Pregnancy Association and the American Dental Association, there’s no need to worry about the safety of dentistry during pregnancy. While deep sedation and general anesthesia are off-limits for pregnant women (except in rare circumstances in which the benefit outweighs the risks), there is no risk associated with local anesthetic used for dental procedures. As the name suggests, local anesthetic works only in the immediate area where it is injected, and a 2015 study showed no difference in the rate of miscarriage, birth defects, prematurity, or birth weight in women who had dental work with local anesthetic and those who did not.
Dental x-rays are another reason for concern for many moms-to-be, but these too are safe, even during pregnancy. Today’s digital x-rays emit extremely low amounts of radiation; to protect you and your unborn child, a leaded apron will be placed on your abdomen and your throat will be covered with a leaded collar.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends avoiding new amalgam (silver) fillings or removing existing ones during pregnancy, but there are no other procedures that cannot be performed while you’re pregnant as long as they require only local anesthetic. In fact, you are at a higher risk of pregnancy complications if you forego needed dental treatment than you are if you get the dental care you need.
Dental Concerns During Pregnancy
When you’re pregnant, it’s even more important to see your dentist because the hormonal changes during pregnancy can bring with them some new dental problems. These include:
- Pregnancy gingivitis, which causes inflammation, swelling, and tenderness of the gums. If pregnancy gingivitis is left untreated, it can lead to gum disease—and gum disease has been linked to premature birth.
- Tooth decay, which is caused by an increase in acid in the mouth due to morning sickness and indigestion, along with a tendency for women to eat more carbohydrates during the first trimester.
- Pregnancy tumors, a condition that causes swelling between the teeth.
We recommend that you make an appointment for a comprehensive oral evaluation and dental cleaning during your second trimester, after your morning sickness has subsided but before you’re so pregnant that you’d feel physically uncomfortable during an appointment.
Learn More About Dental Work During Pregnancy
If you’re expecting and you have questions about getting dental work during pregnancy, contact us today at 516-798-0223 to speak with Dr. Lubliner or one of our hygienists, or to set up an appointment.