Pregnancy can be a difficult time for your oral hygiene. Even with regular brushing and flossing, you may experience inflammation of the gums and tooth decay. Some women experience more serious symptoms including infections in or around their teeth. If you experience an infection in the roots of your tooth or if you experience nerve death, you may have to get a root canal while you are still pregnant. In general, necessary dental procedures during pregnancy are considered safe, but there are a few things that you should be aware of if you are undergoing a more in-depth procedure such as a root canal.
Discuss Medication Options With Your Dentist and Your Obstetrician or Midwife
It is common to experience slight pain and sensitivity for several days after your root canal. Generally, dentists suggest taking anti-inflammatory medication to help reduce swelling in your gums and relieve your pain. However, NSAIDs such as ibuprofen can put your baby at unnecessary risk for heart problems. Although they are less effective at reducing swelling, you may want to choose a non-NSAID pain reliever such as acetaminophen. It is best to discuss your pain management strategy with your dentist and OB before you undergo your root canal so you can be prepared with the appropriate medication after the procedure.
Similarly, your OB will be able to give you a list of safe antibiotics if your dentist needs to treat you for an infection before or after your root canal.
Aim to Have the Procedure Done During Your Second Trimester
If possible, it is best to have dental work completed during the second trimester when risk of miscarriage is lower but you can still sit comfortably in a chair for long periods. If your root canal is not an emergency, you may want to schedule it for your second trimester. However, if it is an emergency because you are in pain or because the tooth is infected, you should schedule the procedure as soon as possible to prevent further complications.
Bring a Pillow to Prop Yourself Up With
As your uterus grows, it can compress the veins and arteries along your back. Spending long periods on your back can make you feel nauseated or dizzy. Depending on the shape of your roots, a root canal can take a long time. To help prevent complications, bring a pillow with you and prop yourself up by placing it under your hip on the side opposite to the dentist, causing you to roll gently towards your dentist. Alternatively, you can discuss splitting the root canal procedure into two appointments so you can spend less time sitting in the dental chair at each appointment.
Ask About an Anesthetic Without Vasoconstriction
Most of the common anesthetics are considered safe for use during pregnancy. However, you may want to discuss opting for an anesthetic without an additional vasoconstrictor, especially if you are still in your first trimester. Your dentist may choose to numb an entire quadrant of your mouth by placing a nerve block near the back of your jaw as opposed to numbing just the tooth they are working on because a nerve block is less likely to enter your blood stream than an infiltration injection.
Try to Relax
Although you may be nervous about getting a root canal while you are pregnant, you should try to relax as much as possible. The hormones that you release when you experience stress and fear may be more harmful for you and your baby than the medication used during a dental procedure. You may want to bring music to help you relax and practice taking deep, calming breaths before the procedure.
For more information on root canals, talk to a dentist like Rick Chavez DDS.