The following are some procedures and medications often used in dental care that you may encounter while pregnant, as well as information on their safety:
Generally, x-rays are not recommended for pregnant women. But if you absolutely must get one, the risk to your unborn baby is pretty small. Your uterus will be shielded by a special lead apron which will block most of the radiation. So if you’re pregnant and develop a serious dental condition which calls for an x-ray, you shouldn’t worry about any harm being done to your unborn baby.
There is no connection between receiving amalgam fillings during your pregnancy and low birth weight, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). Although this remains a controversial topic with many people still remain unconvinced that mercury amalgam fillings are safe.
Tooth Extraction and Root Canals
Although tooth extractions and root canals aren’t recommended recommended during a pregnancy, they can still be performed in a safe manner. Just make sure you notify your dentist that your pregnant and use local anesthetic if possible.
Pregnant women should only use local anesthetics like novocaine or lidocaine. Intravenous or inhaled products should be avoided. The use of epinephrine should also be avoided, which is commonly added to local anesthetics to prolong their effect. It’s use on pregnant women increases risk of minor birth defects.
Pregnant women should avoid non-steroidal pain medications like ibuprofen (Advil, Aleve) and aspirin. You can however use acetaminophen (Tylenol) which is considered safe. Stronger medications for pain such as Percodan or codeine can be used, but you should limit their use to less then a few weeks. Keep in mind that your fetus will be less active when taking those pain medications.
If you get an infection, you may be prescribed an antibiotic by your dentist. Antibiotics from the cephalosporin and penicillin families are safe to take, unless you are allergic to them. Metronidazole and Erythromycin are also considered safe to take. However, tetracycline can affect the bones and teeth of the fetus and thus should be avoided.
There is some conflicting evidence about taking fluoride supplements during your pregnancy to reduce the amount of cavities your child will develop later in life. It’s also not know if supplemental fluoride poses risk to the fetus. There are small levels of fluoride in the city water supplies, which is probably sufficient for the prevention of cavities in your baby.
The bottom line, the healthier you are during your pregnancy in dental care, the healthier you baby will be born. Try to avoid cosmetic or unnecessary procedures, but do not avoid seeing the dentist. Take care of any dental problems you may have, hopefully before getting pregnant. If you are seeing a dentist when already pregnant, make sure your dentist knows about your pregnancy. Check with your obstetrician if you have any questions regarding the safety of any medications or procedures.