Is it Really a Dental Emergency to Have a Cleaning While Pregnant?

I’m 16 weeks along with my first baby. Everything is progressing normally, but I had to go to the emergency dentist because I broke a tooth. I understood why that was urgent to fix, but I really don’t want to have any unnecessary treatment while I’m pregnant and the dentist wants me to have some kind of a deep cleaning. I know it’s been a while, but he wants me to have anesthetic and everything for it. I don’t understand why the cleaning can’t wait a couple months until after the baby is here or why I can’t just have a regular one to tide me over. Can you clear this up?

Thank you,


Dear Georgia,

Congratulations on your pregnancy! This must be an exciting and hectic time for you, and you’ve probably already made all kinds of changes to help keep yourself and the little one healthy. Perhaps your cleaning isn’t a dental emergency, but should be on the list of things you take care of, just like any of the other changes you’ve made.

The shortened version is that researchers have done studies and they discovered that moms who have gum disease are more-likely to have premature babies, as well as low-birthweight babies. This, in and of itself isn’t a huge problem, but it does put the baby at risk for other complications. For instance, an early baby is more-likely to have respiratory or digestive problems and loss of vision or hearing. Smaller babies are more prone to have developmental disabilities and often develop motor skills at a slower rate. Oral health is so important during pregnancy that some insurance companies have begun covering an extra cleaning for expectant mothers.

In regard to the cleaning, it sounds like a traditional one is not enough to get all the buildup off, and the doctor wants to make sure your gums have the best chance at getting healthy again. He could have been referring to a debridement or scaling and root planning, either of which is sometimes called a “deep cleaning.” You’ll need to talk to the office to find out what all is entailed in your cleaning, and why it’s necessary. They’ll do a better job of showing you where they see signs of periodontal disease and can explain in greater detail what kind of cleaning you need and why it’s so. The biggest concern with treatment is usually anesthetic. Most ONGYNs tell their patients to steer clear of epinephrine, but your dentist likely has several alternatives in-office already.

If you’re still concerned, talk with your OB about it as well. She should be able to help settle some of your concerns and will likely be in favor of you having the cleaning done soon, too.

This blog is sponsored by Elgin dentist, Dr. Steve Sirin.

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