At Innovative Endodontics, we are often asked, “Can you get a root canal while pregnant?” This concern is understandable. Pregnant women must take extra precautions with everything that they do. However, with many prohibitions during pregnancy such as medications and care, root canal therapy is one thing you can safely perform. In fact, it is something that you should not put off if you are expecting as treating any source of infection is incredibly important for both you and your baby.
There are several myths about root canal treatments that wrongly convince people to skip them. Some of the most persistent myths question the safety of root canals. They falsely claim a link to cancer, pain, or bacteria spread. However, none of these claims have been proven to be true or accurate. Root canal treatment cures discomfort instead of causing it. Additionally, there are no studies that show that root canals cause cancer.
The safety and effectiveness of root canal treatment have both been proven from decades of dentists and endodontists performing this procedure. Plus, innovations in endodontics have led to better root canal treatments today than in the past.
With modern tools and pain management techniques, endodontists have improved the success rate of root canal treatments while reducing levels of discomfort during and after the procedure. In fact, many patients do not feel anything during root canal therapy and only minor pressure, sensitivity, or sensation for a few days after.
With the myths about root canal treatments, those who are pregnant may feel reluctant to seek this type of endodontic care. However, not seeking care for an active source infection is far more harmful to mom and baby than any dental treatment.
So, can you get a root canal done while pregnant without harming your child? The answer is yes. If you need expert recommendations, groups such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Dental Association both agree on this point. They both say that pregnant people can safely get dental treatments, such as root canals.
The most opportunistic time during pregnancy to receive routine dental treatment is the second trimester. However, if pain or an infection develops, treatment is completely safe at any stage in pregnancy.
Some modifications that may be made during treatment for pregnant women is using only Lidocaine as an anesthetic as it has been proven to be safe for pregnant women. Also, the amount of epinephrine used may be limited.
Patients often ask about the safety of radiographs or x-rays during the treatment when pregnant. The truth is that dental x-rays are now digital and the amount of radiation that is exposed is very minimal. Of course, the endodontist will use as few radiographs as is necessary to complete the root canal safely and effectively. A lead apron will be placed over mom and baby to shield them both during the x-ray. The level of risk is incredibly low. However, be sure to inform the staff that you are pregnant as they may elect to forego the 3-dimensional radiograph.
During pregnancy, hormonal changes, morning sickness, and dietary alterations can lead to several dental issues that require extra monitoring. For instance, gum disease is very common among pregnant people due to hormonal changes that can raise the risk of gum inflammation, known as gingivitis. Without treatment, this issue can worsen to cause loose teeth or teeth that need to be pulled.
The risk for cavities also increases during pregnancy. Stomach acid from vomiting due to morning sickness can weaken the enamel. Dietary changes to include more sweets can also increase the chance of dental decay. The problem is worse for those who feel nauseated from toothpaste. This aversion to the minty smell may lead these people to cut back on brushing.
Cavities will deepen without treatment. When they do, they may allow bacteria to enter the tooth’s internal canals and affect the pulp. The treatment for this infection of the pulp is root canal treatment. This type of therapy cleans out the pulp and bacteria from inside the tooth. Removing the bacteria stops the infection, easing discomfort and preventing bacteria from infecting other areas.
It is recommended that all pregnant women see their general dentist for routine cleanings and examinations to identify any possible issues as early as possible.
Patients who have a recommendation for root canal therapy during pregnancy should not delay in scheduling the treatment. If the tooth remains untreated, the bacteria could cause an abscess in the tooth. Any active infection can be harmful during pregnancy and root canal treatment treats both the source and symptoms, providing optimal health for both mom and baby.
Patients concerned about the safety of root canal therapy should talk to their endodontist before the procedure. Dr. Estes uses several innovative tools and industry-standard methods to ensure patient safety.
For instance, she uses a dental dam for root canal procedures. This important tool isolates the treated tooth, prevents the anti-bacterial fluids used during treatment from getting into the mouth, reduces aerosols which are important in preventing the spread of Covid, and most importantly protects the patient’s airway. This device is not only the standard of care, but it also makes it easier for Dr. Estes to focus on the specific tooth treated.
Another innovation to increase the safety of root canals at Innovative Endodontics is a surgical microscope. This device makes it easier for Dr. Estes to make the smallest opening possible to work inside the tooth and still see the microscopic areas during treatment.
One major concern for many pregnant patients after root canal treatment is the pain management they should use. Of course, all patients should discuss the best options with their doctors or endodontists. However, most discomfort following root canal treatment is mild soreness and is well managed by using the over-the-counter medication Tylenol which is safe in pregnancy. Pain management medication or non-medicated alternatives should always be part of the discussion with the endodontist or doctor before the root canal. Every patient is different, and general guidelines are not possible to cover all pregnant individuals who have root canal treatments.
Luckily, by removing the infection, the discomfort from the tooth should quickly subside and be only slightly uncomfortable for a few days. In fact, after the procedure, almost all patients feel better than before because the root canal resolves the inflammation or infection that was causing the toothache.
Clearly, the answer to can you get a root canal while pregnant is a resounding yes. If you are pregnant, live in Moncks Corner, SC or the surrounding areas, and want to talk to us about root canal treatment, contact us at Innovative Endodontics. We are using proven methods to ensure the safety and comfort of all our patients. Feel free to discuss any of your concerns with Dr. Estes. She believes communication with patients is essential for ensuring their mental and physical comfort during endodontic procedures and is happy to answer your questions.