I am currently 33 weeks pregnant and have a terrible toothache. I had to go to an emergency dentist, as I couldn’t take the pain much more. I was told that I need a root canal. I left there without getting the treatment, even though the dentist said it would be okay to do while pregnant. I feel the need to further research the idea of having root canal treatment during pregnancy. Any advice is appreciated! — Felecia
While many elective and cosmetic dental treatments should be postponed until after pregnancy, emergency dental procedures should not wait. It is best to do root canal therapy in the event of a root canal infection, to ensure the infection doesn’t spread, and possibly impose undue risk to mother or baby. Depending on where you are in your pregnancy may be another factor in determining when to do the root canal. Ideally, second trimester is best to have treatment of that nature done. First trimester is the most vulnerable time in pregnancy, and in the third trimester most pregnant women have a difficult time laying on their backs for the amount of time a root canal can take. Having a discussion with your dentist can sometimes lead to alternative, temporary treatments if applicable (like a temporary filling) until you get to a place where you are more comfortable to have the root canal performed.
The most common concern in a root canal procedure while pregnant is the use of antibiotics (often prescribed to treat or prevent infection), and the use of x-rays (needed to see root before and after root canal therapy). Antibiotics such as penicillin, amoxicillin, and clindamycin, which are labeled category B for safety in pregnancy, may be prescribed after your procedure. According to the American College of Radiology, no single diagnostic x-ray has a radiation dose significant enough to cause adverse effects in a developing embryo or fetus. Ultimately, it’s up to you to discuss with your dentist and OB all of the factors involved, and make an informed decision should the benefit outweigh the risk.
This blog post is brought to you by Des Moines cosmetic dentist, Dr. Phelan Thomas. For more information on the services he provides, please visit his Des Moines cosmetic dentist website.