For many pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, the question of how to best protect your children while maintaining your own dental health comes up as soon as you consider having babies. In this post, we’ll provide the American Dental Association’s guidelines about the safety of engaging in dental procedures during pregnancy and lactation. But it is always best to consult your own doctor and dentist during these vulnerable months.

The biggest risks your child will encounter in terms of your own oral health care, as we will see, from periodontitis and exposure to nitrous oxide.

And before we get to those ADA guidelines, it is important to keep in mind that the current wisdom regarding pregnancy, lactation, and childbirth is changing with time. Where many things were once considered to have little or no effect on pregnant mothers or the fetuses they carried, we’re finding out more and more every day about the links between our environment, what we put in our bodies, and our and our children’s health. Remember, you can never ask too many questions.

ADA Guidelines Regarding Dental Care During Pregnancy and Lactation

  1. The ADA has determined that preventive, diagnostic, and restorative dental treatment, including receiving radiographs and being given local anesthesia is safe during pregnancy; however, it recommends that pregnant dental personnel who are at risk of direct exposure to nitrous oxide or radiation should receive special consideration.
  2. In conjunction with the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the ADA has further stated that emergency treatments can be performed safely during pregnancy. They include extractions, root canals, and restorations under emergency treatments.
  3. The ADA recommends that dentists contact the obstetrician, develop a working relationship, and ask questions regarding contraindications, medication recommendations, and whether the pregnancy is high-risk.
  4. Gingivitis, cavities, and enamel erosion are of increased concern during pregnancy, as is a condition called pyogenic granuloma. Hormonal changes, increased oral acidity, dry mouth, and morning sickness are usually the cause of these conditions, and increased vigilance and oral hygiene can reduce their incidence. In particular, rinsing the mouth with 1 teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in one cup of water will neutralize the acid that erodes enamel after vomiting.
  5. Increased attention to oral hygiene through brushing and flossing regularly can prevent periodontitis, a severe form of gum disease. This is especially important because studies have shown that there is a link between periodontitis in pregnant mothers and premature birth, low birthweight, and preeclampsia. In cases where periodontitis develops during pregnancy, scaling and root planning during pregnancy is considered safe.

Specific Information about Medications, Nitrous Oxide, and Radiographs

The ADA again recommends consultation with both doctor and dentist when medications are called for, especially pain-relieving medications. In general, it says that local anesthesia, with or without epinephrine, is considered safe to use during pregnancy. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recently stated that, in terms of pain reliever used for pregnant and lactating women, there has not been enough research to safely make any recommendations.

Nitrous Oxide is classified as a type of medication that poses a risk of harm to the unborn child if it is administered during pregnancy. The ADA, therefore, recommends that pregnant patients and staff avoid exposure to this sedative gas. And radiographs are considered safe to receive during any stage of pregnancy as long as abdominal and thyroid shielding is used.

In Summary

To wrap it all up, you’ll want to ask a lot of questions during your months and years of pregnancy and breastfeeding. Your dental health has a direct link to the health of your child, and you’ll want to have all the information you need to make the right decisions. The ADA has provided some guidelines about how to engage in dental care, and you’ll learn much more from your obstetrician and dentist as you go along. And finally, the better you care for your own dental health, the healthier you and your baby will be.