By Dr Ali Maan BDS (London) General Dental Surgeon
Is it safe to go to the dentist during pregnancy?
It may be argued that not only is it perfectly safe to go to the dentist, but it’s even more important that you do so! This is because your mouth is more prone to problems as a result of the normal hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy. The problems normally affect the gums, making them more prone to inflammation resulting in soreness and bleeding. Therefore it’s important that you see a dentist during your pregnancy so we can advise on how best to look after your mouth and look for any potential problems.
One of the situations that you may have to deal with during pregnancy is tooth extraction, or sometimes a wisdom tooth extraction. Whilst removing a tooth is always a last resort for any dentist, sometimes it is unavoidable. This is usually when the tooth is so badly damaged, it can’t be saved. There is no contraindication to having a tooth removed during pregnancy.
As for wisdom teeth, sometimes you may experience a dull, throbbing ache from the back of the mouth and a bad taste and bad breath. You may also get some swelling around the tooth. It is common for wisdom teeth to get partially trapped underneath the gum as there is no space for the teeth to erupt fully. This can render them prone to decay and also gum inflammation as it is difficult to keep them clean. This inflammation can be exacerbated in pregnancy.
If you are unfortunate enough to have a problem with the wisdom tooth during pregnancy, treatment can vary. If your dentist judges the problem to be due to plaque and food trapping around the tooth causing gum inflammation, treatment may involve careful cleaning around the tooth and medication if necessary. If the tooth is very badly damaged or there is a severe infection that is unlikely to resolve by simple measures, then extraction may be warranted.
As wisdom teeth usually have a higher risk of requiring minor surgery to extract, we would usually prefer to take them out within your first or second trimester of pregnancy as it can be uncomfortable to spend an extended period of time in the dental chair in the latter stages of pregnancy. This why it’s so important to attend regularly to see your dentist for your routine preventative dental checkup and cleaning; even if you don’t think there are any problems, sometimes early signs can be picked up by your dentist thus avoiding the need for more complicated treatment later on!
An X-ray is required before any extraction; this is perfectly safe to take during pregnancy as the relative radiation dose you receive is low and the beam tends to be focused away from your baby. The procedure itself should be painless but we would ask you to eat before you attend as your mouth will remain numb for a little while after the procedure.
Recovery time after a wisdom tooth extraction is usually uneventful. You may experience some minor discomfort for a few days for which routine painkillers can be taken; usually, you will be asked to return to the clinic for a routine review appointment to check for healing and to remove any stitches placed during the procedure.
If you have any questions regarding this topic, please feel free to contact us and we will be happy to answer as best we can!
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