During pregnancy there is a myriad advice given to women regarding best practice to ensure healthy development and to reduce any risks to the foetus. Commonly, dental treatment is required during pregnancy and it is normal for the expecting mother to have concerns about any potential effects the anesthetic, materials or x-rays could have. In this blog I will address some of the common questions and concerns with regards to dental treatment during pregnancy.
Can you have dental treatment while pregnant?
The short answer is yes dental treatment is safe and often necessary during pregnancy. However, it is common for a dentist to delay non-essential treatment until after the pregnancy, this is more about comfort for the mother rather than avoiding any risks to the foetus. Pregnant women have a decreased ability to fight infections, often suffer from pregnancy gingivitis and due to regular snacking often see their dental condition decline during pregnancy. It is common to treat gingivitis and complete fillings on pregnant women. Certainly any signs of dental infection must be treated quickly and aggressively (either with a root canal or removal of the tooth). Due to their decreased ability to fight infections, pregnant women are more likely to suffer severe complications from a dental infection such as facial swellings. It is a common misconception that these infections can be treated with antibiotics alone, treating the source of the infection (I.e. the tooth) with adequate dental treatment is very important for the health of the mother and baby.
Are x-rays safe during pregnancy?
Yes. Dental x-rays are safe and often necessary during pregnancy to diagnose problems and treat them effectively. Research has shown that radiation of the head and neck is associated with minimal radiation to the developing foetus. Furthermore, even direct exposure to foetus of radiation less than 50mGy is associated with negligible risk to the foetus.
Is local anaesthetic, filling materials and antibiotics safe to use during pregnancy?
Yes. Common local anaesthetic agents such as lignocaine and articane have not shown to be harmful during pregnancy. Likewise, filling materials pose no risk to the pregnant mother and foetus. Most antibiotics (such as penicillin and clindamycin) are also safe to use during pregnancy although some are contraindicated (for example tetracyline).
Dr Michael Russo
BCom, BDent, Grad. Dip. Clin. dent. (Oral Implants)
Severe odontogenic infection in pregnancy: a timely reminder S Tocaciu, BW Robinson, PJ Sambrook