In a perfect world, you would have time to have a dental checkup, and to have any dental issues treated, before you become pregnant. However, we live in the real world. The reality is that pregnancy itself can cause dental problems, and many women do not realize they need a root canal until they are already pregnant. Fortunately, root canal treatment is generally considered safe during pregnancy. Of course, every woman is unique, as is every pregnancy, so it is important to check with your doctor and dentist for guidance.
It is impossible to determine whether you need root canal treatment without a dental x-ray. While the American Pregnancy Association recommends that pregnant women avoid all nonessential x-rays, the Association agrees with the American College of Radiology that modern shielding means that a needed dental x-ray should cause no harm to a developing fetus. Let your dentist know you are pregnant, and he or she will take precautions to minimize the risk to the fullest practical extent.
Timing Your Root Canal
Although root canal treatment poses little risk to your developing baby, some points in pregnancy are more ideal for treatment than others. If possible, try to schedule your root canal for the second trimester. The first trimester is considered the riskiest in general, and by your third trimester you may be quite uncomfortable laying back in the dental chair.
According to the American Dental Association, local anesthesia poses no risk to developing fetuses. Local anesthetics with epinephrine (e.g. Bupivacaine, Lidocaine, Mepivacaine) may be used during pregnancy.
Pain Medications and Antibiotics
Although the American Pregnancy Association recommends lowering medication exposure as much as possible, it also notes that when the mother is in pain, it puts stress on the baby. Therefore, it is important to manage your dental pain. Antibiotics may also be needed to reduce the risk of an infection that could spread to your baby. Talk to your doctor and dentist ahead of your root canal to discuss which medications will work best for you and your baby.
Root canal problems are never fun, and needing treatment while pregnant can be a source of additional stress. Fortunately, modern methods have rendered root canals nearly pain-free, and with proper guidance from both your doctor and your dentist, there is no reason to put off this essential treatment.
Ready to Get Started?
If you need a root canal from an endodontist you can trust, contact North Shore & Brookline Endodontics today at the location that is most convenient for you.