Posted by The Vigilant Mom on March 14, 2012
I admit it, I am a lying, cunning, dodging dental patient. I will do almost anything I can to avoid having to spend time in (cue ominous music) “The Chair.” Oh sure, every few years or so, my husband will express concern about spending his golden years with a toothless woman, or my sister-in-law (the dentist) will guilt me into making an appointment, but in general, I fly as low under the Dentist Radar as I can. And it was great when I was pregnant because I got to blame it on my concern for my baby. I didn’t want to take any chances, I somberly explained.
Of course, as it turns out, there was no reason to be concerned about dental work harming my baby. In fact, most experts recommend that women have regular cleanings and dental check ups during pregnancy, because some pregnant women experience bleeding and swollen gums due to hormonal changes. They also recommend that expectant moms who have cavities go ahead and have them filled (oh sure — you can’t have wine, but your teeth can be drilled. Thanks a lot!) in order to avoid any infections. Some experts do caution, however, that expectant moms be wary about anesthetics. The local anesthetics like lidocaine usually administered in dental offices are known to cross the placenta to the baby. Does that mean you should white knuckle it through fillings without an anesthetic? No. But since drugs like lidocaine are Category B (which is usually considered pretty safe for pregnancy), experts do recommend that you have as little as possible.
As for dental x-rays (you know, that lovely procedure where you get to clamp your mouth down on something hard and pointy and drool while your photo is being taken), most experts agree that the risk of radiation to your developing baby is really very small. In fact, the American College of Radiology claims that no typical office x-ray machine emits enough radiation to harm a fetus. Still, unless x-rays are absolutely essential, it’s not a horrible idea to put them off until after your baby is born. So many of your child’s essential organs are developing in the first trimester, why take any unnecessary risk?
So yes, pregnant women, you can keep up on your dental hygiene. Just be sure to try to do most of your dental visits before your third trimester when it will be really uncomfortable to lie on your back for a long period of time.