Being pregnant can make it challenging to know what is and isn’t safe for you and your baby. Many mothers suffer in silence with dental issues feeling it might not be safe to attend their regular dental checkups. As well, you might even have a newly acquired dental issue and avoid calling for an appointment for the same reason. However, your dental care remains an important part of your overall health, and therefore it shouldn’t be ignored. If you are scheduled for dental surgery during your pregnancy, here is everything you need to know to help put your mind at ease.
What is dental surgery?
Dental surgery is outpatient procedures performed either with a general or local anesthetic. Many are common dental procedures and include:
- Root Canal
- Dental Implants
- Wisdom Tooth Extraction
- Reconstructive surgery for soft tissue
- Cosmetic dental surgery
Is dental surgery safe during pregnancy?
In many cases, oral surgery is not recommended during pregnancy. This is because to keep you comfortable during the procedure; we use sedatives or anesthetic. While they help you during the treatment, they can have a negative effect on your baby. Because of this, we don’t use a general anesthetic for moms to be. That said, local anesthetics are approved for pregnant patients. They will not be harmful to your baby, and therefore if your surgery can be performed with a local anesthetic, we can determine if it makes sense to proceed. Your health and wellness are also important, and dental issues that can lead to infection should be addressed.
Are there certain trimesters that make surgery safer?
Yes, generally, the first and second trimesters tend to be safe for oral surgery. However, you still cannot have sedation. When you reach the third trimester, surgery becomes riskier. Because of this, it is only recommended that surgery be performed if it cannot wait. We will assess your health to determine if we deem it necessary to proceed or if it makes more sense to postpone your treatment. Again, our goal is to ensure that both you and your baby are safe.
Is it best to have dental surgery before pregnancy?
If you aren’t yet pregnant, and we have recommended oral surgery, then it is always better to have it done before getting pregnant. In fact, we recommend women thinking of getting pregnant set up a dental checkup so we can determine if a treatment plan is necessary before you actively try to get pregnant. This is the best way to address any potential issues early on, so you are less likely to require emergency dental surgeries once you are pregnant.
What are common oral surgeries postponed due to pregnancy?
Basically, any oral surgery that does not present a risk to you can be postponed until after giving birth. We will recommend oral surgery during late pregnancy only if your health is at risk. This would generally include root canal procedures required when you have an infection in the soft tissues inside your tooth. Because this type of infection can spread, it must be addressed as soon as possible.
What if I need dental x-rays during pregnancy?
This is a common question that moms to be ask our team. However, the good news is x-rays are approved during pregnancy. It has been determined that a single dental x-ray does not produce radiation levels high enough to harm your baby. This is important because x-rays are often necessary to pinpoint issues that commonly arise for dental emergencies as well as confirming a diagnosis for the required treatment. If x-rays are required, we will use a lead blanket to protect you and your baby to ensure you have minimal exposure.
What about other dental treatments?
The easy answer is, it depends on the treatment. We will make recommendations based on need and let you know when you should consider postponing treatments. Here is a basic overview of the most common dental treatments:
Extractions: Yes, although we only perform extractions as a last resort, they can be performed any time during pregnancy. If required, it is best to have extractions performed earlier on in the pregnancy to avoid discomfort when the baby puts more weight on your back.
Root canal: Yes, if you require an emergency dental procedure such as a root canal, it should not be delayed. As mentioned above, if you have an infection, the infection can spread, putting you and your baby at risk.
Teeth whitening: While you can receive teeth whitening treatment when pregnant, it is cosmetic and unnecessary. There are a few reasons we would recommend you wait. First, it can be uncomfortable in the third trimester as it can be more difficult to lie down during treatment. If using a home whitening kit, we advise only using a kit with six percent or less hydrogen peroxide as it can otherwise potentially cause tissue damage.
Orthodontic treatment: Patients receiving orthodontic treatment should continue treatment during pregnancy. While you can be fitted for new braces when pregnant, it is usually best to wait to avoid potential complications. For example, it is not uncommon to experience swelling of the gums and facial tissues during pregnancy, making braces more irritating.
We will let you know when we think it is best to wait, to keep you and your baby safe.
How can I prevent the need for dental surgery during pregnancy?
As with any dental patient, the best way to avoid the need for dental surgery is to practice excellent oral hygiene. You should continue to brush and floss, and enjoy a healthy diet. A healthy diet is not only good for your oral health but also your baby. An important tip when pregnant is to avoid brushing your teeth if you vomit from morning sickness. Instead, rinse your mouth and then brush after 30 minutes. This reduces the risk of enamel damage from the acids produced when vomiting.
Whether you are planning a pregnancy or are currently with child, always discuss this with our team. We can keep up to date on your current health and make recommendations to suit your needs. Our goal is to help you maintain excellent oral health. We are always here to answer questions and offer advice to help your situation.