is dental anesthesia safe during pregnancy

Pregnancy is a beautiful and unique experience in a woman’s life. But most of the time, pregnancy brings a lot of pain and discomfort.

A lot of times, hormonal imbalance causes changes in the dental tissues. Some of the most common dental problems related to pregnancy are gum inflammation, poor oral hygiene, dental abscess, and oral infections.

One of the main concerns that come in the mind while visiting a dentist during pregnancy is the safety level of using anesthetics while undergoing a dental procedure.

There is a lot of pain-relieving options that can be used to make dental procedures a comfortable one.

One of the most common means of dental pain relief during pregnancy is the use of anesthetics.

Anesthesia is a state of controlled and temporary loss of sensation or consciousness induced mainly for medical purposes.

The most common form of dental anesthesia given during pregnancy for most of the procedures is local anesthesia.

Usually, anesthetics are avoided during the first three months of pregnancy.

Dental procedures are often performed after the first trimester in co-ordination with the obstetrician to determine the safest choice of anesthetics for the patient.

In this article, we will discuss the types of dental anesthetics used during pregnancy and also look at their safety and risk factors.

What do you mean by aesthetics?

Anesthetics are agents used for medical purposes to induce a controlled and temporary loss of sensation or consciousness while performing a surgical procedure. (1)

The route of administration of anesthetics can be –

  • Intravenous
  • Inhalation
  • Intramuscular
  • Dermal

During dental procedures, the most common type of anesthesia used is local anesthesia. In this, the anesthetic is administered close to the affected area.

Numbness is limited to the area of concern while the patient stays wide awake.

Are anesthetics safe to administer?

Ideally, the first trimester is considered as the crucial period of fetus development.

Moreover, it increases the levels of anxiety and stress for the mother. Most of the times, anesthesia fails to cope with the altered state of the hormones in the body.

Therefore, it is always best to avoid primary dental treatments like extraction of infected teeth or gum surgery during pregnancy.

After the first three months of pregnancy, the dentist can carry out dental procedures after consulting the obstetrician and discussing the safest dental anesthetics for the patient.

What are the types of dental anesthetics used during pregnancy?

Typically, three types of dental anesthesia can be administered during pregnancy –

Local anesthesia

Local anesthesia is a shot of injection given to numb a specific part of the mouth. Local anesthesia is one of the most common and safest means of dental pain relief used during pregnancy.

Though regular doses of local anesthetics are safe and make the procedure comfortable and painless, it is best always to get the dental treatment before pregnancy and postpone the treatment if it doesn’t require immediate attention. (2)

Preventive procedures like cleanings and gum treatments can, however, be performed during pregnancy as they are required to maintain good oral health at this time.

General anesthesia

General anesthesia is administered to provide a total state of unconsciousness. It is usually given during surgical procedures like extraction of wisdom teeth.

Ideally, general anesthesia is avoided during pregnancy as its effects can vary on the mother and the fetus.

Always inform the dentist about your pregnancy before undergoing a dental procedure that requires general anesthesia. (3)

Conscious sedation

Sedation is a form of anesthesia that is administered through inhalation. It makes the patient drowsy and relieves anxiety. Nitrous oxide is the anesthetic agent used for conscious sedation.

Though conscious sedation is an excellent choice for an anxious patient, it is avoided during pregnancy.

Alternative forms of relieving anxiety like acupuncture or listening to music, can be tried.

Also, during pregnancy, drugs like diazepam or any similar medicines are strictly avoided.

What are the risks associated with anesthetics?

Anesthesia does come with a set of risk factors for the mother as well as the developing fetus. Some of them may include – (4)

  • Increases risk of spontaneous miscarriage during the first trimester
  • Incidences of internal bleeding or complications that may lead to fetal miscarriage
  • Risk of anesthesia to the fetus may include premature birth, low birth weight, and in severe cases, infant mortality.

It is therefore advised to always consult the dentist and the obstetrician before deciding to undergo any treatment that may require the administration of anesthesia. (5)

Take away message

Pregnancy is a unique experience in a woman’s life. There are so many new things to learn and maintain health, especially oral health.

With the altered state of body hormones, pregnancy brings in a little bit of additional dental issues that may require attention to maintain good oral hygiene.

Some of the most common dental problems during pregnancy include gum inflammations, periodontal abscess, oral infections, and infected teeth.

While administering these problems, the dentist plans a treatment in consultation with the obstetrician to find the best ways of making this process painless.

One of the standard methods used to relive the dental pain during treatment is the administration of anesthesia.

Anesthesia in dentistry can either be local or general. A particular type of anesthetic technique is conscious sedation.

Use of dental anesthetics is strictly prohibited for the first trimester. Following which, the dentist can treat the issues that require immediate attention and postpone the rest after pregnancy.

Local anesthesia is the most commonly used method and is also considered as the safest among pregnant women.

However, the anesthetic solutions always have a varying amount of risks associated with it.

It is still best to inform the dentist about your pregnancy so that he can alter the treatment plan and make it the best fit for your case.