I have an exciting personal announcement to make. This Thursday, we have an appointment to meet our new baby daughter. Little Lindsey will be our fifth child, so by this point we are pretty used to the routine. But I can still remember a time when this was all new to us, and we had a lot of questions. We were worried that we might inadvertently do something during the pregnancy that could endanger my wife or the new baby. And while I am not qualified to answer most of these questions, there is one area where I feel confident in proclaiming my expertise. Dentistry. What dental work is appropriate, and what isn’t during the time of pregnancy? This article will hit on a few of the most questioned areas.
Routine procedures: According to the American Dental Association, “Dental work while pregnant such as cavity fillings and crowns should be treated…the second trimester is ideal. Once you reach the third trimester, it may be very difficult to lie on your back for an extended period of time.”
Elective treatments: Again, quoting the ADA, “Elective treatments such as cosmetic procedures should be postponed until after the birth. It is best to avoid this dental work while pregnant and avoid exposing the developing baby to any risks, even if they are minimal.”
Anesthetic: Lidocaine is the most commonly used drug for dental work, and is safe for use in pregnant women. Also, when you are comfortable, it makes it easier for the anesthetic to work and reduces the amount of stress on you and the baby.
X-Rays: Routine x-rays are usually postponed until after pregnancy to avoid radiation exposure to the fetus. Emergency x-rays, on the other hand, are often needed to accurately diagnose and treat dental problems, such as root canals or extractions. According to the American College of Radiology, no single diagnostic dental x-ray has enough radiation to affect an embryo or fetus, and it is recommended that this emergency dental work be taken care of. Also, the medications which are normally prescribed during these procedures are relatively safe for your baby.
Nitrous Oxide (AKA “laughing gas”): Nitrous Oxide “has been shown to pose risks in pregnancy, and should be used only if other anesthetic agents are inadequate, and only after consultation with the patient’s physician…every effort should be taken to avoid contact with nitrous oxide.” As far as I am concerned, there is no reason to expose a pregnant woman to this risk. We have better alternatives.
Nutrition and routine care: It is normal for your gums to become more sensitive during pregnancy, making normal hygiene and nutrition that much more important. Fortunately, there is not much evidence to suggest that the teeth themselves are affected. Indeed, eating well and practicing good dental hygiene before, during, and after pregnancy makes it so every woman can ensure that her teeth remain healthy for a long time.
We hope you enjoy the amazing joys of pregnancy, and be sure to practice extra caution to keep mom and baby healthy and happy.