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Is It Safe to Have a Root Canal during Pregnancy?

A woman’s chief concern about having a root canal during pregnancy may be the need for x-rays.
Dentists use a root canal to remove the nerve and pulp of a tooth that has become diseased or infected. It's usually safe for pregnant women.
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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 31 October 2014
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In general, it is safe to have a root canal during pregnancy. A root canal involves the removal of damaged nerves and pulp from a patient’s tooth. Often, the x-rays a woman may need before, during, or after a root canal are a source of concern during pregnancy, but they do not usually represent significant risk. Women often worry about the medications used for numbing the mouth for a root canal, but they are usually safe as well. Additionally, a woman need not worry about the chemicals used for irrigation or the resin applied during a root canal, as they do not usually harm the developing fetus.

Many people think having a root canal during pregnancy is dangerous and should be avoided whenever possible. The truth is, however, that it is usually safe to have a root canal during pregnancy. In fact, having a root canal may help protect the health of the developing baby. This is due to the fact that an unhealthy tooth can become badly infected if left untreated. This type of infection has the potential to become so severe that it affects other part of the body, but treating the tooth helps eliminate this risk.

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A woman’s chief concern about having a root canal during pregnancy may be the need for x-rays. In most cases, however, the risk to the developing child is minimal. The x-rays required for root canal treatment are aimed at the woman’s mouth rather than at her abdomen, where they could affect her baby. Additionally, a dentist is likely to provide a lead vest a woman can use to shield her abdomen if she needs x-rays during pregnancy. Still, dentists usually recommend that women wait to have routine x-rays until after they have given birth; only those that are absolutely necessary for a root canal or other dental procedures are usually performed during pregnancy.

As far as the medications and chemicals used during root canals are concerned, most are considered safe. The drugs that are used to numb the mouth during a root canal during pregnancy do not usually cross the placenta or harm the developing fetus. The liquid used to irrigate the patient’s mouth may contain sodium hydrochloride or a similar chemical, but the amount used for a root canal is usually too little to adversely affect a fetus. Likewise, the resins used during a root canal procedure do not usually pose a threat to the developing baby’s health.

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ysmina
Post 3

@burcinc-- I was told the same as you when I had dental issues during my pregnancy. My dentist said that I can't have an x-ray while pregnant and gave me two options. I would either wait until after birth to have the root canal, or have the tooth removed.

First I said I would wait but the pain got a lot worse and my dentist was scared of infection. I ended up having the tooth removed. Thankfully it was a back molar, so the gap is not visible.

I'm surprised that @anamur was able to have the root canal. My experience is from four years back though. So maybe something has changed during that time and doctors have realized that it's not dangerous?

Is the verdict still out on root canal and pregnancy from the viewpoint of dentists?

serenesurface
Post 2

@burcinc-- Yep, I had a dental x-ray, followed by a root canal while I was pregnant and everything was fine.

I was worried about it at first but consulted with a radiologist to make sure. He told me that it's fine. He said if the situation requires it, it's not even uncommon for women to get x-rays of their chest, which is pretty close to the abdomen. So a dental x-ray really poses no risk for the baby.

I can't imagine having had to wait until I gave birth to my son to have it taken care of. I was also in a lot of pain like you and needed treatment fast.

burcinc
Post 1

I'm ten weeks pregnant and I'm going to have a root canal therapy started next week. I'm saying "started" because my dentist said that he won't finish the procedure until after I've given birth. He will need x-rays and doesn't want to put me at risk.

I don't know what to think about this. I wan't to keep my baby safe as well, but I'm also in a lot of pain and need to have something done about my tooth. He's going to be cleaning out the infection but I have no idea if this is going to take care of the pain.

Is this common? I understand that the x-ray and treatment shouldn't pose much of a risk for the baby. But why would my dentist decide not to proceed with it then?

Has anyone had a root canal during pregnancy, with an x-ray and everything, and can vouch that it doesn't harm the baby?

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