Pregnancy is both a wonderful and challenging time that brings in plenty of health concerns and specific safety considerations. Many women mistakenly believe that all dental procedures are risky to undergo while pregnant, while others mistakenly believe they can have any treatment done. The truth lies somewhere in the middle, with many safe treatment options to consider and a few to avoid.
Decisions about how to handle your oral health needs during a pregnancy are largely based on the condition of your teeth and the risk factors of various potential treatments. These five facts will help you make the right choices in each trimester.
1. Avoid Mercury Fillings
While composite and ceramic fillings are now more commonly used, some dentists still apply mercury amalgam fillings in challenging situations where the enhanced durability and cavity filling capacity is necessary. But pregnant women should not have this material used to fill their cavities, regardless of the stage of pregnancy, to prevent complications due to the mild exposure to heavy metal.
However, if you suspect you have a cavity, you shouldn't wait to have it filled until after you give birth. Your dentist can safely use composite filling materials to keep your mouth strong and healthy without any additional risk to you or your developing baby.
2. Wait for Filling Removal
Because the active mercury used in some dental procedures can increase the risk of complications for pregnant women, many women want to have any amalgam fillings they have removed after finding out they are carrying a child. However, the process of removing existing mercury amalgam fillings is actually quite hazardous and not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women. It's actually safer to wait until later to remove and replace fillings.
A dentist can also remove any mercury fillings before you become pregnant as part of a general oral health makeover. Taking care of the little health details is a good way to prepare your body for the extra demands of carrying and delivering a child.
3. Consider Root Canals
Root canals are generally safe and often recommended when necessary during the first two trimesters of a pregnancy. When you enter your third trimester, root canals and extractions are generally only completed if they're absolutely necessary and pose a significant health risk due to the potential spread of infection and resulting birth complications.
You will need to stick with local anesthesia when undergoing the root canal, even if you normally prefer full sedation dentistry or general anesthesia. If your dentist agrees that you can wait until after you give birth to have the root canal, you can then safely use heavier sedation options to overcome anxiety about the procedure.
4. Minimize Anesthesia Use
When planning to have a cavity filled or root canal completed during the early stages of pregnancy, you still may want to request a lower dosage of local anesthesia. Many of the medications used for numbing tooth roots and surrounding gum tissues, such as lidocaine, are known to travel across the blood barrier.
Little evidence shows that a mild exposure to these medications will have any negative effects on a developing fetus, but many mothers would still prefer to limit exposure as much as possible.
5. Continue Teeth Cleanings
Routine dental cleanings are perfectly safe to continue during all stages of pregnancy. Cleanings can prevent pregnancy related gingivitis and tooth decay. If you struggle to remain comfortable on your back in your third trimester, ask your hygienist to give you breaks every few minutes to stand up and stretch.
Schedule an appointment with a dentist who handles patients in all life stages by calling us here at Aico's Dental Group. We'll create a treatment plan for all nine months so your gums and teeth remain healthy with minimal potential for any side effects or risks.