Pregnancy and Dental Health by Dr Amanda Leske (formerly Hales)
Did you know that four staff members staff members at Robertson Dental Innovations currently(at time of posting) pregnant? So this seemed like a good time to discuss some important information regarding pregnancy and dental treatment.
Before getting pregnant
The best way to avoid dental treatment during pregnancy is to maintain regular (6 monthly) check-ups and sort out any dental problems before getting pregnant. Regular x-rays are an important part of dental treatment as many dental problems can go undetected without proper x-rays so make sure you are also up to date with your x-rays prior to becoming pregnant. Remember to let your dentist know as soon as you find out if you are pregnant or if you think you might be pregnant so they can take the necessary precautions.
Is it safe to have dental treatment while pregnant?
The short answer is generally YES! If you are already pregnant the safest time to have dental treatment is during your second trimester. Non-urgent treatment is best avoided in the first trimester as this is when baby’s organs are developing and very sensitive to disturbances. HOWEVER untreated urgent dental problems such as pain, decay and infections are MORE likely to cause problems with your pregnancy than dental treatment is. Don’t just ignore the problem – the last thing you need when you go into labour or have a new baby is a toothache!
Gum disease has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight babies so it is especially important to have this diagnosed and treated prior to getting pregnant or giving birth. It is also very important to maintain excellent oral hygiene at home, that is, brushing thoroughly for 2 minutes twice per day and flossing daily.
Dental x-rays ARE safe during any stage of pregnancy* and are often necessary to diagnose and treat dental problems. At Dental Innovations we use lead apron body and thyroid protection and digital x-rays with the lowest radiation dose possible. In fact you get more radiation from standing outside for a few hours than you do from a single intra-oral dental x-ray.
*Radiation protection in dentistry: Radiation protection series No.10. The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency; December 2005
Local anaesthetic is very safe to use during pregnancy. Most antibiotics are also safe but if there is any doubt the dentist will consult with your doctor or obstetrician prior to prescribing any antibiotics. Sedative agents such as nitrous oxide (happy gas), penthrox or valium are not recommended and will not be used by your dentist. All routinely used dental materials are considered safe to use during pregnancy so normal dental treatment such as fillings, crowns, extractions, cleans and even root canal treatment can be safely performed during pregnancy.
Remember, your dentist is the best health professional to inform you about the safety of dentistry during pregnancy as they have been trained with specific knowledge regarding dental treatment and pregnancy. Please contact the friendly staff at Dental Innovations if you would like any more information!
About the Author
Dr Amanda Leske has had 6 years experience working in public, private and teaching clinics and has been with Dental Innovations for almost 6 years. She gained her Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Dental Surgeons in 2012 and has recently been appointed a Lecturer in Dentistry at La Trobe University. Dr “Amanda” (as she is known by her child patients) can provide all aspects of general dentistry but has a particular interest in children’s dentistry. Dr Leskie is currently on maternity leave and due to return in Mid-2016.