Q. Is it safe to have teeth cleaned by a dentist during pregnancy?
A. In general, yes, says Dr. Jill Maura Rabin, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine in Hempstead. In fact, it is an important thing not to avoid, she says. "There is some literature to show that everything turns out better if your oral health is optimal," Rabin says. And that means cleaning to avoid infection or inflammation while pregnant, she says.
In the best-case scenario, women trying to get pregnant would have prophylactic dental work done before conceiving, Rabin says. But if that's not possible -- or it's time for another cleaning while pregnant -- this is Rabin's advice: "Go get your teeth cleaned."
The one caveat she has is for women who have medical complications such as diabetes, heart disease or a history of failed pregnancy. In those cases, she would still advise having the work done, but be sure to have the dentist confer with the obstetrician to determine the best course for that individual, she says. "Early evidence points to the possibility that gum inflammation may be linked to poor obstetrical outcome, especially in women who have had a pregnancy loss or complication such as pre-term labor."
In the case of more complicated dental work -- such as having cavities filled -- Rabin would always have the dentist and obstetrician coordinate to decide on the best anesthetics and medication for each patient, she says. But she would still advise getting the work done, if possible, to avoid infection.