Which Dental Treatments Are Safe/Unsafe When You're Pregnant?

Which Dental Treatments Are Safe When You’re Pregnant?

Pregnant woman at dentist before treatmentDuring your pregnancy, it is still important to keep your oral health in check. In fact, some dental issues can actually cause problems with your pregnancy, such as plaque build up, which research shows can contribute to low birth weight and premature births [1].

It is also important to continue to visit your dentist for regular checks ups during your pregnancy, during which time you may require certain dental treatments to maintain your oral health, which may raise concerns regarding the safety of these treatments for your unborn child.

You may be surprised to know that many dental treatments are still safe to receive while you are pregnant and some may even be downright necessary to help prevent more serious dental issues from developing, which can affect your growing baby.


Why You Should Continue to Visit the Dentist While Pregnant

Dental Check Up

Not only is it safe to keep up your regular dental visits while pregnant, but it is also strongly recommended as pregnant women have an increased risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease, as well as many other dental issues, due to hormonal changes and unusual food cravings, which can jeopardise your oral health.

Leaving these dental issues to fester until after you give birth can have a negative impact on your overall health, as well as your baby’s; therefore, it is more important than ever to continue to visit the dentist regularly to further increase the chance of having a healthy baby.

Given your condition, the dentist may also recommend more frequent visits to the dentist to allow him or her to keep a close watch on the health of your gums and teeth. If during a visit the dentist notices any issues, he or she will perform the necessary dental treatments, as well as recommend any adjustments to your at-home oral hygiene regimen to help maintain your oral health.

If you are planning a pregnancy soon, it is also important to visit the dentist to have any serious dental issues addressed prior to conceiving to help increase your chance of getting pregnant and carrying to full term [2].


Is It Safe to Receive an X-ray While Pregnant?

The radiation emitted from x-rays raises many concerns in patients regarding the safety of medical imaging on their health, especially during pregnancy. But, the x-ray technology used today is designed to emit the lowest dose of radiation possible to ensure safer radiology; therefore, it is safe during pregnancy. One x-ray alone does not emit enough radiation to cause side effects in yourself yet alone your unborn child [3].

Your dentist may also drape you with a lead apron, as well as protect your neck with a thyroid guard, to safeguard both you and your baby from the effects of radiation.

The dentist may also recommend you wait until your second trimester to receive an x-ray, provided you are only receiving a general dental check-up. However, if during your first trimester, you experience intense dental pain, or any other dental emergency, then your dentist will need to perform an x-ray in order to properly diagnose the issue.


Is It Safe to Have Your Teeth Pulled While Pregnant?

The dentist’s main objective is to save your tooth as much as possible in order to avoid pulling it. However, sometimes a tooth can become damaged beyond repair, such as from severe tooth decay, in which case the dentist may have no other choice than to extract it in order to protect your oral health.

If during your first trimester, you require an extraction, the dentist may recommend you wait until you are in your second trimester to have the tooth removed in order to avoid exposing the fetus to x-rays while he or she is in the first stage of development. Furthermore, during your third trimester and beyond, having to lie back for extended periods of time can be uncomfortable; hence, having your tooth pulled during your second trimester also helps prevent discomfort.


Is It Safe to Receive Anesthesia While Pregnant?

If during your pregnancy, you need to have a tooth pulled or another dental procedure that requires an anesthetic, the dentist will use the lowest concentration of anesthesia possible to help put you at ease, which research shows is safe [4]. In fact, the more comfortable you are during the procedure, the less stress it will put on the fetus.

Therefore, if you are pregnant and require anesthesia, be sure to let your dentist know so that he or she can make the proper adjustments. In fact, some anesthetics should be avoided during pregnancy, so neglecting to inform your dentist of your condition can put your pregnancy at risk.

You should also feel free to ask the dentist any questions you may have concerning the type of anesthetic you are receiving to further allow you to relax during your procedure.


Is It Safe to Have a Root Canal While Pregnant?

Once your tooth begins to decay, if it is not treated in time, the decay will continue to travel down the tooth to the nerve endings, which can cause severe pain. Furthermore, this decay-causing bacteria can also enter the bloodstream, where it can affect your growing child [5].

To prevent further pain, and to help stop the infection from spreading, your dentist will usually recommend a root canal treatment, which involves taking out the infected pulp and then placing a protective crown over the tooth to avoid extraction.

Because a root canal involves having an x-ray, the best time to receive an endodontic procedure is during the second trimester [6]. However, a root canal is safe no matter the stage of pregnancy, so if you have severe tooth pain, do not put it off.


Is It Safe to Receive Tooth Whitening While Pregnant?

Though teeth whitening and other cosmetic treatments may not cause harm during pregnancy, we recommend not undergoing this type of treatment. No testing has been carried out on pregnant women for understandable ethical reasons and for that reason we strongly recommend against it until after you finish breastfeeding.


Is It Safe to Receive Orthodontic Treatments While Pregnant?

iTero Element 2Orthodontic treatments do not typically require anaesthetics; therefore, they are totally safe to receive during pregnancy. However, if you are being fitted for braces, your orthodontist or dentist may recommend you wait until your second trimester because getting braces requires receiving x-rays, which he or she may want to avoid during the first trimester.

Furthermore, as you gain pregnancy weight, it can alter the shape of your mouth and face, which means the dentist may have to refit you for a new set of aligners, or your braces may need to be adjusted, which can increase your overall cost. Swelling of your mouth and face can also cause irritation from wire braces. Therefore, your dentist may recommend putting off certain orthodontic treatments until after giving birth.

However, if you only need to fix a minor orthodontic issue, your dentist may simply recommend removable plastic aligners.


How to Avoid Dental Treatments While Pregnant

Good oral hygiene is the key to avoiding dental treatments, whether you are pregnant or not; therefore, you should continue to practice good oral hygiene throughout your pregnancy.

In addition to brushing twice a day and flossing, you should also try to avoid unusual food cravings, such as sugary treats, which can increase your risk of tooth decay.

If you suffer from morning sickness, you should also avoid brushing your teeth immediately after because it can damage the tooth enamel [7]. After morning sickness, simply rinse your mouth with plain water and then wait at least an hour before brushing your teeth.



  1. [1] The University of Adelaide. Oral health during pregnancy. [Online] n.d. [Assessed May 2019] Available from: https://www.adelaide.edu.au/arcpoh/dperu/special/pregnancy/pregnancy_DL.pdf
  2. [2] Verywellfamily. Can Dental Hygiene Affect Fertility? [Online] 2018 [Assessed May 2019] Available from: https://www.verywellfamily.com/can-dental-hygiene-affect-fertility-4136661
  3. [3] Emergency Care Institute New South Wales. Risks of X-rays and CT scans in Pregnancy. [Online] 2012 [Assessed May 2019] Available from:https://www.aci.health.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/273450/risk-of-x-rays-and-ct-scans-in-pregnancy-patient-factsheet-0.pdf
  4. [4] Research Gate. Use of local anesthetics for dental treatment during pregnancy; safety for parturient. [Online] 2017 [Assessed May 2019] Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/318366249_Use_of_local_anesthetics_for_dental_treatment_during_pregnancy_safety_for_parturient
  5. [5] Dental health services victoria. Links between oral health and general health the case for action. [Online] 2011 [Assessed May 2017] Available from: https://www.dhsv.org.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0013/2515/links-between-oral-health-and-general-health-the-case-for-action.pdf
  6. [6] U.S. National Library of Medicine. Endodontic treatment of the pregnant patient; knowledge, attitude and practices of dental residents. [Online] 2015 [Assessed May 2019] Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4698844/
  7. [7] Better Health Channel. Pregnancy and teeth. [Online] 2018 [Assessed May 2019] Available from: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/pregnancy-and-teeth

Focused on general dentistry and pediatric care, Dr. Anastasas provides gentle, comprehensive dental services tailored to children and families.