Toothache (cont.)

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How is toothache during pregnancy managed?

For pregnant patients, toothaches can be a nuisance and cause discomfort. While the pregnancy can cause some additional complications, dental procedures can be performed effectively and safely with the proper precautions. Initially, a thorough exam is performed around the face and in the mouth to determine the source of the pain. Should an X-ray be necessary, lead shields are used to cover the abdomen and thyroid to prevent radiation exposure to the mother and unborn child. An X-ray is important in assessing the extent of damage that might be present in the mouth and help determine the treatment.

Dental treatment for a severe toothache or large cavities should be performed to reduce the risk of infection and eliminate the source of the pain. The ideal time for treatment is during the second trimester of pregnancy. However, in some instances, emergency dental treatment such as a root canal or a tooth extraction may be necessary and would need to be performed immediately despite the stage of the pregnancy. The pregnant patient's obstetrician may need to be consulted as well to determine what is best for the patient and baby in emergency situations.

Medications used during dental work include anesthetics and antibiotics. Anesthetic is necessary to make the procedure comfortable and stress-free and antibiotics may be necessary to treat an infection. Certain anesthetics (such as lidocaine) and antibiotics (such as penicillin and clindamycin) fall under the FDA's Category B medications and thus, are classified as safe during pregnancy. To manage dental pain, acetaminophen (Tylenol) is recommended for pain relief. Avoid medications such as ibuprofen or aspirin as these are generally not considered safe during pregnancy.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/11/2013

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