Which dental treatments can you receive during pregnancy?
Receiving a dental cleaning during pregnancy is not a bud deal and is quite routine. On the other hand, receiving elective or cosmetic treatments, such as fillings, wisdom removals and dental implants, is generally discouraged during pregnancy. Only cleanings and emergency dental treatments are allowed during this period. Invasive dental treatments, basically those involving a shot, should be performed only on emergency basis and with extra caution.
But what if there’s a huge cavity which may hit my tooth nerve if I wait much longer?
Fixing cavities during pregnancy can be risky and is not advisable. Most cavities require a shot. Additionally, if the filling causes pain afterwards you will require additional X-rays. Both getting a shot and taking X-rays are discouraged during pregnancy. There’s always the risk that your filling ends up getting too close, or even hitting, your tooth nerve. If your filling ends up causing pain and discomfort, treating it can be a major headache when you’re pregnant. In all honesty, a cavity which has been there for a while already, can probably stay there for a few more months, so fix them at your own risk!
If you’re really worried about the cavity getting bigger, you can always ask your dentist to place a temporary filling on the tooth to cover it for the time being. Temporary fillings can be placed without using any anesthesia or the need to drill into your tooth. A temporary filling will seal off your cavity to help protect it until you can receive definitive treatment after delivery.
Surprise, Surprise: Most dentists don’t like doing too much work on you when you’re pregnant!
Most dentists aren’t too comfortable treating pregnant patients. The same dentist who was pushing you to get this and that fixed just a few months ago is now going to avoid even the most basic treatment during your pregnancy! This is because there is too much liability in treating pregnant patients. However, if you do end up with emergency toothache, and go through the troubles of obtaining a medical clearance letter, then you should be able to get some minimal treatment from your dentist. Nevertheless, there’s only a limited number of treatments your dentists will most likely render during your pregnancy:
Cleanings are safe on pregnant patients an in fact can be very beneficial in getting gum bleeding under control. Try to get your dental cleaning during your second trimester if possible.
Partial root canal treatment (known as a pulpectomy)
This is basically an incomplete root canal therapy which is intended to temporarily relieve your pain until definitive treatment.
Complete root canal treatment
Your dentist will only finish your root canal if he or she is confident it will be an easy one and won’t require too many X-rays. Otherwise you will most likely be referred out to an endodontist (root canal specialist).
Again, dentists usually only extract teeth if they are very simple to remove. For everything else, you will most likely be referred out to an oral surgeon.
So what will my dentist do for my pain if I’m pregnant?
Which treatment you receive will most likely depend on what your dentist is comfortable with. Should your dentist refuse to offer you the treatment of your choice, consider asking him or her for a referral to the appropriate dental specialist. You will likely be sent to either an oral surgeon to remove the offending tooth or an endodontist to perform a root canal or pulpectomy to save your tooth. Dental specialists are more skilled at their specialty treatment so they are better suited to manage pregnant patients.