Visiting the dentist during pregnancy is always something expectant mothers have questions about. Understanding the myths about dental care while pregnant, and if it’s safe to have a tooth pulled while you’re expecting, can help you keep your smile (and baby) healthy.
Dental extractions are typically reserved for emergencies or if a tooth is non-restorable.
Most dental procedures are completely safe to perform during pregnancy.
Your stage of pregnancy can influence the type of procedures your dentist recommends.
Certain medications should not be administered in a dentist’s office if you’re pregnant.
There are safe ways for your dentist to offer care or take X-rays while you’re expecting.
Your dental provider will communicate with your OBYGN team if oral surgery is medically necessary.
When you’re pregnant, everything about your body changes—and that includes your oral health. But whether or not you should get treatment from your dentist when you’re expecting depends on what kind of dental care you’ll need. Let’s take a look at whether or not it’s safe to get teeth pulled if you’re pregnant and how to keep your teeth healthy during this special time of life.
Can I get a tooth pulled if I'm pregnant?
Dental extractions are often the last resort when it comes to addressing painful or infected teeth. It can be safe if you're pregnant but is not usually recommended. That being said, if you're experiencing a dental emergency or severe toothache, your dentist may recommend removing your tooth to alleviate your discomfort and protect your baby.
Is it safe to visit a dentist when you're pregnant?
Yes, it is safe to see a dentist when you're pregnant. In fact, preventative dental care can lower your and your baby’s risk of conditions like:
- Pre-term birth.
- Low birth weight.
If you have active oral infections such as gum disease or an abscessed tooth, it’s more dangerous to avoid dental care than it is to receive dental treatment. Seeing a dentist allows you to gain control over the infection, reducing the potential for bacteria to spread through your bloodstream and to your unborn child.
Can I have local anesthetic or sedation if I'm pregnant?
One important step before any dental extraction is thoroughly numbing the tooth and the area around it. Many local anesthetic medications (what's used to numb your mouth during dental treatment) contain epinephrine, which is not recommended if you're pregnant. Your dentist may recommend an alternative local anesthetic that does not use epinephrine, so it's important to let your dental team know if you're expecting.
Similarly, nitrous oxide (laughing gas) is safe to use during pregnancy. In fact, it's also used as an analgesic during childbirth in some parts of the world. However, deeper sedatives such as oral sedation or IV sedation are usually avoided unless there are extenuating circumstances.
Are dental X-rays safe if I'm pregnant?
If you're pregnant, it's best to avoid unnecessary dental x-rays. However, if you need X-rays to diagnose or confirm a dental condition and you can't wait until after your baby is born, talk to your dentist about safe ways to take X-rays for pregnant women. The American Dental Association recommends using the minimum radiation necessary, and there are ways to do this. Such as using a lead apron to cover your reproductive organs and limiting the number of X-rays taken.
Most dentists will delay routine diagnostic X-rays until the checkup after you've given birth. But if there are emergencies, dental X-rays are still safe enough to take during pregnancy on a case-by-case basis.
What if I can’t lie back in the dental chair?
Some women find that the further they are along during pregnancy, the more challenging it is to see the dentist. Reclining back in the dental chair may cause some discomfort, especially when they are nearing their due date.
If possible, try to schedule dental appointments during the second trimester. By this time, most bouts of morning sickness have improved, but it isn’t too uncomfortable to be reclined back.
Should I delay tooth extraction until after having my baby?
In most scenarios, severely damaged and non-restorable teeth are removed and quickly replaced with a restoration such as an implant or bridge. But if you’re pregnant, your dentist will need to weigh the pros and cons of delaying your dental extraction.
For instance, impacted wisdom teeth that require surgical removal should be postponed unless chronic infection and inflammation are present. But a tooth that is broken in two and abscessed may demand an emergency same-day dental extraction.
When in doubt, your dental team will communicate closely with your primary care physician or OBGYN to determine the best steps regarding your oral health needs.
How long is the recovery after dental extraction?
Simple dental extractions usually require one or two days for recovery before resuming a normal diet. But surgical extractions (wisdom tooth removal) tend to need at least a week or more before returning to work and vigorous activity.
To ensure a timely recovery, always follow your dentist’s prescribed home care instructions. Such as keeping your head elevated, not drinking through a straw, properly cleaning around the extraction site(s), eating a soft diet, and taking medications as directed.
The close connection between your mouth and baby
Dental infections are known to spread throughout the body, creating a strong oral-systemic connection that affects the reproductive organs in both men and women. Similarly, pregnancy is a time to be aware of untreated oral infections, as they could pose a potential health risk to your unborn baby. In some scenarios, aggressive oral disease is even considered a risk factor for stillbirth.
If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, now is an excellent time to talk to your dental team about how to prepare for a healthy smile in both you and your newest family member. They will be happy to answer your questions and can partner with your OBYGN team to plan for safe dental care throughout your pregnancy (even if you need a dental extraction.)