Dentist Visit during Pregnancy/Breastfeeding

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Getting a filling while breastfeeding

Jan 2008

I am breastfeeding an 8-month old and just chipped an old mercury filling. I need to get the filling fixed. The novacaine is supposed to be OK, but What are the risks of passing toxins to my baby from the silver amalgam filling being replaced? Thanks in advance. anon

Hello! There is no problem with the toxins from the amalgam fillings harming your baby through breastfeeding. There are small amounts of mercury that get into the air when you are drilling out the old filling but a suction will be used to decrease that. However, dentists have methods to decrease any exposure to mercury if you are worried. First, your dentist can use a rubber dam which slips around the tooth and acts as a barrier to your mouth (you can breathe totally fine through it). Also, you can get a tooth-colored or composite filling and then no need to worry about mercury! Hope it helps A dentist

well, i had to get a freakin' root canal a month after giving birth. i chose the white filling instead, but my dentist said either would've been fine with breastfeeding. (i'd imagine the level of toxin is miniscule in a filling.) enjoy your kid-free time in the dentist's chair - i did! kim

Yes, please take this seriously! I am in my mid-40ies and have been mercury poisoned by 16 amalgam fillings, severely suffered for the past 3 years without knowing what was going on. I just finished having all of my mercury fillings replaced with non-metal composites by super-competent Dr. Sandor Hites in Berkeley. I have also passed some of the mercury to my daughter when I was pregnant with her. I will not go into detail about detox here. All I have to say is 1. take it seriously and 2. walk away from any dentist who thinks mercury in amalgams aren't a problem. They are - and dentists are the first ones to get poisoned, unless they are holistic dentists who use proper precautions. I haven't felt this good since my early 20-ies! For anyone who wants to get into the subject, look up research scientist Andrew Cutler on the web. He wrote a very detailed book about this as he was going through mercury poisoning. Anonymous

So smart of you to recognize that, YES, there are risks associated with removing silver amalgams while breastfeeding. I had two of my silver fillings replaced while I was breastfeeding my 7-month old daughter, and it was about the biggest mistake of her and my lives. When you fiddle with a silver filling, which is 50% mercury and other heavy metals, you unleash a toxic bomb for your body, which, unfortunately hits your baby harder than you, as mercury will travel through your breastmilk in higher concentrations than exist in your body. My advice to you: don't replace the filling until you are through breastfeeding, unless you really need to. Since you probably do need to, my practical advice is to stop breastfeeding for at least a week following the dental work. If you can pump lots of milk ahead of time, that would be ideal. If not enough pumped milk, even though baby formulas are not natural, that would be a lesser evil for a one-week period than subjecting your child to the mercury. The day you get the filling replaced, take loads of Vitamin C. Following the dental work, take antioxidants, like Vitamins A, C and E, grape seed extract, pycnogenol, turmeric, and milk thistle to help your liver handle the detoxification. Eat a lot of cilantro. While the mercury won't leave your body in that one week (will take months), it will considerably lessen the load. When you start breastfeeding again, give your baby Vitamin C, too. Bottom line: mercury is toxic. At this point, you don't know how well your baby's immune system can handle it, so you need to protect him/her as much as possible. Feel free to email me: Learned the Hard Way

What dental procedures should I avoid while pregnant?

June 2004

I'm 16 weeks pregnant and concerned about some tooth sensitivity. I am not in great pain - just concerned that something might be wrong with one of my back molars which is crowned. I have heard that pregnant women should avoid the dentist, and I'd like to hear more. I fear that my dentist will scoff at my fears about having anything done. My gums have started to bleed a little when I brush, too. I plan to talk to my OB at my next visit, and I am also trying sensendyne toothpaste to see if that takes away the sensitivity (since crowned teeth are more sensitive). What dental procedures should I avoid when I pregnant and what is OK? sharon

I can't help with the crown issue but did talk to my dentist about bleeding gums just last week (I'm 11 wks preg). My dentist recommended that in addition to brushing and flossing, that I should use a mouthwash (cut 50% with water) each night after brushing and flossing. The mouthwash would help cut down on bacteria and help my gums heal. bleeding gums

Some sensitivity and bleeding go along w/ pregnancy, so keep that in mind. If you can stand it, I'd wait till you deliver. Talk to the dentist about your concerns. Mostly, the issues are about things like no x-rays, but doing some dental work has potential to introduce bacteria into the bloodstream, which of course has potential to be a problem for the baby. anon

It's a very good idea to get your teeth cleaned while you're pregnant. Your gums will be more sore afterwards than usual because of the additional blood flow to them, but happier in the long run. Also keep flossing, but use the thinnest, most waxy floss you can--don't use Glide when you're pregnant, it'll only irritate you more. There's a great product called Gly-Oxide that you can use on problem areas to oxygenate under the gumline and get the bacteria out. That and flossing should help the bleeding gums a lot.

My dentist gave me a root canal last month, when I was about as far along as you. When he X-rayed me, he put two of the lead blankets over me as an extra precaution. It's fine for your dentist to numb you up to drill or replace a filling or crown, and for you to use nitrous oxide, but you probably shouldn't get a procedure done that will require you to use narcotic painkillers for more than a dose or two. An interesting thing that happened to me with my last pregnancy (it's interesting now... it wasn't at the time) was that I got a very painful abcess in a tooth the day before I went into labor. I didn't notice the tooth pain during labor and delivery, but it came back with a vengeance the night after. I went on Vicodin and Motrin for a few days until I could get to the dentist. Then when I went off the Vicodin cold turkey, my body finally felt the soreness of having gone through labor! It was like I'd been hit by a truck! So I went back on the Motrin for a few more days. And all was well. heidi

My dentist advised against all dental work during pregnancy, because his insurance would not cover the liability and he didn't think it was a good idea for the kid. This meant that I went through the last 7 months of my pregnancy with a broken filling...but, oh well...we got it taken care of. as soon as I was back on my feet after the birth. Sara

Go to the dentist! Look for a woman dentist who's been pregnant, if you have to :) My dentist, at least, was quite aware of what things I should or should not have done while I was pregnant. Things like X-rays are bad, OTHO, you also want to avoid having an oral infection which could also hurt your baby. So find a dentist you can trust and talk to them. anon

Wisdom teeth extraction while pregnant?

March 2003

I am scheduled for wisdom tooth removal in early April. The wisdom tooth-ache problem came up suddenly, right in the middle of our attempts to conceive! Now, I may already be pregnant, or may become pregnant by April (if we do not stop trying). The doc says that if I am pregnant at the time of the surgery, he will only give me local anesthesia, so I will be awake. If I am not pregnant, I can be ''asleep'' for the procedure (the best case scenario for me personally). Has anyone ever had their wisdom teeth removed while pregnant? How did you cope? Is it better to postpone conceiving (If we haven't yet) till after the surgery? Any advice or suggestions welcome. Thank you, Pregnant (maybe) and in pain

Call around and find someone good who can extract your wisdom tooth ASAP and not make you wait until April, or pressure (beg or bug) your current dentist about this. Several reasons to have it done while non-pregnant, in addition to the anesthesia reason you identified: 1) you'll be in pain after the surgery, and it would be nice to be able to take some heavy duty painkillers w/o worry about harming a fetus; 2) you may feel prety crummy during the initial stage of pregnancy, so why do something else that will only add to your discomfort? My first trimester was awful, and if anyone had suggested I get a tooth extracted, I would have probably shot myself. 3) if anything happens - and miscarriages early on are SO common - you'll be wondering if the procedure had anything to do with it. Fran

I unwittingly had my wisdom teeth out while pregnant. I actually terminated the pregnancy, so don't know that it had any effect on the fetus although my o.b. told me it would probably have been fine. However, I did have a problem with healing. I developed ''drysocketing'' I think it's called and healing took several months. I suspect -- having always been a really fast healer -- that being pregnant interfered with that somehow.

I'm pregnant and have been suffering with a broken filling for four months because my dentist recommended waiting until the kid was born to have any work done -- even with a local. He may just be paranoid, but...the thing to ask yourself about drugs in pregnancy, especially very early pregnancy, is, ''Can I get through this experience without 'em?'' I'm not saying you should suffer unnecessarily, but I have found that I have a lot more ability to get through pain than I thought I did before I got pregnant (probably a good prep for parenthood!) Mind you, I'm REALLY looking forward to having this filling replaced. BTW, I had my wisdom teeth removed with a local back in high school and was just fine. I got some codeine tablets and stayed home for a couple of days. It's not as big a deal as you've heard. Sara

Hi, I had a similar situation, we were trying to get pregnant but i had to get my teeth out. My advice is GET THEM OUT FIRST! if you're not preg this month, make an appt asap and get them out then get back to trying. You could always get the appt first and cancel if it turns out you are pregnant since it is hard to get appts sometimes... You could get an infection or something (if you delay) while you are pregnant which would necessitate anti-biotics and getting them out thru more painful local drugs which is not fun! And if you are planning on breastfeeding that could delay your surgery further! I have had a lot of problems w/ my teeth, and infections from the wisdom teeth are an awful pain you don't want while you are pregnant! You want to be as healthy as possible while you are pregnant and that includes your teeth! good luck! stacy

It's best to talk to your ObGyn, not your dentist about what would be best, as he/she would be the better expert regarding how things will if at all impact the new embryo if you do get pregnant. When I was 7 months pregnant my dentist said I had several cavities that would needed local anesthesia to fix. He wouldn't touch them until I talked to my Obgyn about the anesthesia, who in turn told me to wait until after the baby was born. And cavities are mild compared to getting wisdom teeth pulled. But your dental problem definately sounds like it can't wait. Another thing to think about and ask your ObGyn is the painkillers you will definately need after getting your wisdom teeth pulled. anon

Two notes: first, why not have the surgery *now* when you know you're not pregnant? That way, you don't have to even contemplate the surgery-while-pregnant scenario. Perhaps your oral surgeon could put you on the cancellation list or you could seek out another surgeon. Second, I had my wisdom teeth removed while mostly awake (a little demerol, a little nitrous, but kept hearing him say, ''A little wider, Jennifer'') and with local anesthetic. Unpleasant but bearable. I'm not sure if if your hesitation is related to a phobia about dentistry or just a presumption that wisdom tooth surgery is always done while asleep. Good luck with your decision. Jennie