The question of whether or not women can undergo dental work while pregnant continues to be considered by both the medical and scientific communities. It is known that any kind of medication that a woman takes while pregnant will cross from her bloodstream into that of her unborn child, which could pose a risk to the developing baby’s safety and wellness. By all accounts, doctors theorize that routine dental services, such as cleanings and fluoride treatments, are safe and even recommended during pregnancy. Routine care helps keep harmful bacteria out of a woman’s mouth and away from her bloodstream where it could cause her and her unborn child to become sick.
Anything beyond preventative care continues to be studied to see if it is safe for pregnant women to undergo prior to delivery. The general consensus now suggests that any kind of care that involves the use of lidocaine, a commonly used numbing agent, or any other kind of anesthesia should be avoided until after delivery. Lidocaine and its effect on pregnancy has not been studied extensively, but scientists theorize that it could cross into the placenta and pose a risk to a baby’s development. It could slow the fetal heart rate and even contribute to prenatal death. Until studies provide more conclusive evidence of its impact on pregnancy, women are advised to avoid undergoing treatments that involve the use of this numbing agent until after they deliver.
Even seemingly routine procedures like extractions and cavity fillings may need to wait until a woman has already delivered her baby and is far enough postpartum that she has been cleared for more in-depth medical and dental care. In extreme cases, such as where an abscess would pose more of a risk to her health and that of her baby, a woman’s doctor may clear her for an extraction. However, she may have to go through the procedure at a hospital where she can be connected to a fetal monitor. The dentist may use the absolute minimum of numbing agent on her to remove the tooth.
Is Dental Work While Pregnant Safe?
By all means, women should continue to see their dentists while they are pregnant. Preventative care like having their teeth cleaned and treated with fluoride provides a basis for overall good health. It eliminates harmful bacteria that could cross over into their bloodstreams, causing them and their unborn babies to become ill. It also prevents more serious dental problems from developing later. Pregnant women are reminded to use extreme caution when deciding what procedures to have done during pregnancy. Their dentists are trained medical doctors and understand what treatments are safe and which ones should be avoided. They should listen to their dentists and follow the prescribed advice without insisting on riskier procedures being done.
Their dentists will advise against them having x-rays done during pregnancy. The amount of radiation used for an x-ray is very low; however, it is still enough that it could cause harm to a growing fetus. Radiation exposure has been known to cause fetal abnormalities and even fetal death. With that, a dentist typically will not allow a pregnant patient to have x-rays done until she has delivered.
This same precaution is used for advising women who want to undergo cosmetic services while pregnant. Their dentists may recommend that they wait until after delivery to have teeth pulled, have their front incisors bonded and capped, or undergo any other kind of cosmetic procedure. These treatments require the use of anesthesia and numbing agents, both of which are risky during pregnancy. The chemicals used to white and bond a person’s teeth are powerful and could cause harm to a growing baby’s development. While all women want to look their best prior to delivery, they are generally advised to wait for more in-depth dental procedures until after they have their babies. They should stick with having preventative care done to their teeth, effectively keeping harmful bacteria at bay and halting the development of more serious dental issues later.
Can You Be Put To Sleep For Dental Work While Pregnant?
The use of anesthesia during pregnancy can be very risky. A woman may not suffer any harm; however, her growing baby’s heart rate could drop or even stop during the procedure. Many dentists refuse to put pregnant women to sleep during treatments unless absolutely necessary to prevent maternal illness or death. The most extreme cases for using anesthesia during pregnancy for dental work involves removing an abscess. An abscess is a pocket of bacteria-filled pus that develops over an infected tooth. If left to fester, the abscess will release the bacteria into the woman’s bloodstream and cross over to the baby’s placenta. The bacteria could cause the mother to become very ill and the baby to die. In extreme cases, the mother may also die.
A dentist will typically agree to the use of anesthesia or putting the mother to sleep for very extreme cases of dire dental conditions, like an advanced abscess. However, before the dentist puts a woman to sleep for the procedure, he or she will insist on the woman being admitted to the hospital and require that she be connected to a fetal monitor. She also will be connected to monitors that will keep track of her vital signs. An obstetrician will be on hand in case of fetal or maternal distress as well.
After the procedure if finished, the mother will remain in recovery for a few hours so that her dentist and obstetrician can monitor her and her baby’s health. They both will ensure that the infection is leaving her bloodstream, that she is responding well to her antibiotics, and that the baby’s heart rate remains stable. As long as both she and her baby are doing well, the mother will be discharged from the hospital a few hours after the procedure is done.