Dental work during pregnancy may sometimes be unavoidable. Dental emergencies may pop up, requiring a visit to your dentist. You will have some questions once you’re there; that’s common.

You probably didn’t research dental visits while pregnant when you were reading up on having a baby. Don’t worry, though. Your dentist should be able to answer your questions but make sure to let them know you’re expecting.

Broken teeth, infections, etc. can be unpleasant to deal with, but they’re still fixable. If you do require dental work while pregnant, it’s best to have the work done in your second trimester. Once you reach your third trimester, it will be difficult for you to lay in the dentist’s chair for a longer period of time. Optional treatments such as teeth whitening and cosmetic procedures should be postponed until after the baby is born.

Related: What is Emergency Dental Care?

The Use of X-Rays During Pregnancy

Getting x-rays done while pregnant can be concerning for some moms-to-be and rightly so. Radiation can have some effects on your unborn child. X-rays are commonly used to assess dental emergencies. However, the use of x-rays in dental work will not harm your child. If they are needed, your dentist will take the necessary precautions to protect what’s in your growing abdomen. Your dentist will ask you to put on a lead shielding apron, which will protect your baby. Euan Swan, Manager of dental programs at the Canadian Dental Association, stresses “if a woman needs treatment, including x-rays, freezing and filling, it’s safe to carry that out any time during pregnancy.” It’s estimated that a fatal dose in one

dental x-ray exposure is 0.01 mrad. It’s known that doses less than 5 rad are not associated with any increased defects or problems. Therefore, dental x-rays should not bring a concern to expecting women.

Safe Medications to Use During and After Dental Work

If your tooth is causing you high levels of pain, your dentist can give you relief through some medications during the emergency procedure and afterward. During your emergency work, it is safe for you to receive anesthesia. You should receive as little as possible, but an amount that still makes you comfortable. Additional numbing can also be added to the tooth if you’re still feeling some soreness. Comfort during your emergency dental procedure is of the utmost importance. If you’re comfortable in the dentist’s chair, the amount of stress placed on the baby is reduced. It’s also easier for the anesthesia to take effect and work its magic if you’re relaxed.

Using nitrous oxide in a dental emergency procedure is also ok when applied with some guidelines. Nitrous should only be used on pregnant women during the second trimester, its exposure should be limited to less than 30 minutes, repeated exposure needs to be avoided, and 50% oxygen needs to be used. When these guidelines are followed, nitrous oxide is safe to use on an expecting lady.

Your dentist may decide to prescribe you some antibiotics after your procedure or to help with any infections. You can take these medications if they are labelled category B for safety during pregnancy. Antibiotics like penicillin, amoxicillin, and clindamycin are all safe to be taken following dental emergency procedures.

Tooth pain while pregnant is an easy fix. Even though your dentist should be able to answer your questions and address your concerns, it doesn’t hurt to do your own research. Knowing what’s safe to use—x-rays, anesthesia, nitrous oxide, antibiotics—can help you feel more prepared and knowledgeable before laying down in the chair, making dental treatment during your pregnancy a piece of cake.