Category Archives: Dental Conditions

Dental Treatment Precautions During Pregnancy

What are precautions during pregnancy you should take when at the dentist?

Getting dental cleanings during pregnancy is not a big deal and is quite routine. On the other hand, any invasive dental treatment should be done with extra caution. For one, receiving elective or cosmetic dental treatment, such as fillings or whitening, is discouraged. Only emergency dental treatment is allowed during this period. Here is a list of precautions during pregnancy you should take when at your dentist:

Minimize your exposure to radiation during pregnancy

It is not advisable to take unnecessary X-rays when you’re pregnant. This includes X-rays for dental checkups, cavity detection or braces placement. Taking one or two X-rays to detect the source of a toothache is allowed. Additionally, it’s always best to avoid switching dentists at this time. Try to go to a dentist you’ve already been to recently so they have some of your current X-rays on file.

If you have to switch dentists, then request a copy of your most recent X-rays from you previous dentist. Take these X-ray copies to your new dentist on your appointment. A set of recent X-rays will provide your new dentist with a better picture of your overall dental history. This helps better narrow down the source of your problem and can help identify it without the need for too many additional X-rays.

Avoid receiving non-emergency dental treatment, aside from dental cleanings

You shouldn’t receive dental treatment such as fillings or crowns during pregnancy. Any invasive dental treatment, even a simple filling, could potentially end up causing complications and pain. You don’t need to deal with these unexpected problems during such critical times. Keep in mind that invasive dental treatment requires administration of anesthesia as well as X-rays, both of which are discouraged during pregnancy. Treatment such as fillings, whitening, crowns, non-emergency wisdom removals, etc. can all wait until after delivery.

But what if there’s a huge cavity which may hit your tooth nerve if you wait much longer?

Obviously it would be best if you sought treatment for these before becoming pregnant. After all if the cavity is huge, you must have known about it for quite a while! If you did miss this opportunity for whatever reason, then it’s best to just wait a few more months to fix your cavity after childbirth.

Fixing cavities during pregnancy can be quite risky. First off you require a shot and possibly additional X-rays, both of which are discouraged during this time period. Secondly, there’s always a risk your dentist end up getting too close or even hitting your tooth nerve when fixing your cavities. Should a filling end up having pain and discomfort after it’s been placed, treating it can be a major headache. Honestly, a cavity that has been in your mouth for a while already, can stay there for a few more months.

If you’re really worried about it, you can have your dentist place a temporary filling to cover it. A temporary filling can be placed without using any anesthesia or drilling into your tooth. Temporary filling will seal off your cavity to help protect it until you can receive definitive treatment later on. Two scenarios will follow. If the filling works well, then all you have to do is present right after delivery and have it fixed permanently. If however the tooth does end up hurting then you can start the root canal treatment and have it finalized after delivery.

Dentists like to minimize treatment during pregnancy

The same dentist who was pushing you to get this and that done just a few months ago is now going to avoid you like the plague during pregnancy! There is too much liability treating pregnant patients. Most dentists aren’t very comfortable doing invasive dental work during this period.  Now, if you do end up with emergency pain and go through the troubles of obtaining a medical clearance letter, then you should be able to get some minimal treatment from your dentist. Generally there’s only a limited number of treatments your dentists will render during pregnancy:

  • Partial root canal treatment, known as a pulpectomy. This is basically an incomplete root canal therapy to help temporarily relieve pain until you complete treatment after delivery.
  • Complete root canal treatment which may be referred out to an endodontist.
  • Tooth extraction which is commonly referred out to an oral surgeon.

Which treatment you receive could depend upon what your dentist is more comfortable with. Of course it’s your tooth ultimately so you should have the final say in what happens to it. Should your dentist refuse to offer you the treatment of your choice, then ask for a referral to an appropriate dental specialist. At this point you will either be sent to an oral surgeon to remove your bad tooth or an endodontist to perform a root canal or pulpectomy to save it. Keep in mind that since dental specialists are more skilled, they are typically better at managing pregnant patients.

NEXT >> 10 Questions to help decide on seeing or avoiding the dentist during pregnancy

What are the protocols for seeing the dentist during pregnancy?

Tooth Sensitivity Dilemma: Going to the Dentist

1. Desensitizing toothpastes won’t help if your sensitivity is due to cavities. Your teeth can become sensitive when they are developing cavities. This sensitivity gets worse as the cavity starts to encroach on the tooth nerve and once it has finally hit the nerve the pain now becomes overbearing. Using a desensitizing toothpaste will have no impact in these cases and postponing dental treatment could only result in an infection. An easy way to identify these types of situation is when the sensitivity is localized to just a single tooth, or two to three at most, then you most likely have a cavity in that region. Although sometimes when you do have numerous cavities it could actually affect the entire mouth. The dentist can best determine if the source of your tooth sensitivity is from cavities or from root exposure to guide you in the right direction.

2. Desensitizing toothpastes may mask symptoms of gum disease. Your teeth can also become sensitive once you develop gum disease. Gum disease makes you lose gum and supporting bones and your tooth roots become exposed and develop sensitivity. Using a desensitizing toothpaste may actually help out with the sensitivity but it does nothing to stop or treat the progression of gum disease. If you continue to avoid the dentist and simply rely on the relief that the toothpaste provides, then the gum disease is continually progressing and becoming worse. This may eventually lead to your teeth loosening and you could end up losing numerous teeth as a result. You should go to the dentist first to identify and treat the gum disease before beginning to rely on desensitizing toothpastes for additional help.

3. You can build up resistance to the desensitizing toothpastes. Using a desensitizing toothpaste for a short time is not an issue. But using them over the long term is not as effective as you typically will start to build up some level of resistance to them. So if you are younger and have severe tooth sensitivity, you might want to discuss other solutions with your dentist to see what other invasive dental treatments may be available to better address your problem over the long run. These treatments will range from fillings and crowns to gum grafts or root canals to name a few.

  • For less sensitive cases treatment may involve placing fillings on the exposed roots. Unfortunately these fillings typically do fall off the teeth after a short while, leaving you with even larger dents and more sensitivity than when you started!
  • Another option is a gum graft surgery to cover the exposed roots. This is a very complicated and expensive surgery and is typically reserved for the more serious cases.
  • A final treatment option for more advanced sensitivity cases would be placing crowns or performing root canals on the very sensitive teeth.

NEXT >> How to Decide?

Tooth Sensitivity Dilemma: Using Desensitizing Toothpastes

Tooth Sensitivity Dilemma: How to Decide?

How to Decide

Answer the following questions:

  1. Have you seen a dentist to identify the source of your tooth sensitivity?
  2. Is your sensitivity from exposed tooth roots or from teeth whitening?
  3. Have you confirmed with your dentist that your tooth sensitivity is not due to cavities or gum disease?

If you answered “yes” to all of the above questions then you are a good candidate for using desensitizing toothpastes. If you have previously consulted your dentist and have positively identified the source of you tooth sensitivity as gum loss and root exposure, then you are a good candidate for continual use of a desensitizing toothpastes which has worked for you.

If you  answered “no” to most of the above questions then you should go and see the dentist to determine the cause of your tooth sensitivity prior to using a desensitizing toothpaste.

Final Thought

We prefer that you visit the dentist first to identify the source of your tooth sensitivity. Using a desensitizing toothpaste may sound a lot easier than going to the dentist but without correctly identifying the source of the tooth sensitivity you might be taking a gamble. While desensitizing toothpastes can be quite effective for treating sensitivities originating from exposed tooth roots, they are equally ineffective for sensitivity arising from cavities or in reversing your gum disease. And they can’t treat your cavities or reverse your gum disease which will have dire consequences. Delaying treatment will only worsen the condition and can result in pain and infection.

If you are experiencing tooth sensitivity for the first time you should always go see the dentist to identify the source of your tooth sensitivity. It should not be a problem if you choose to start using a desensitizing toothpaste right away in case you’re in too much pain or just too impatient to wait until your appointment. If you choose to start using a desensitizing toothpaste right away then make sure to provide your dentist with this information to better assist him or her in diagnosing the problem. Either way, there really is no drawbacks to using a desensitizing toothpaste and you won’t be any worse off using it.

NEXT >> Using Desensitizing Toothpastes

Tooth Sensitivity Dilemma: Going to the Dentist