When you’re pregnant, a lot of everyday things suddenly become off-limits. You have to skip the sushi when you go to your favorite Japanese restaurant, aspirin is out of the question when you have a headache, and you might even agonize over whether you can still put a splash of wine into the dinner you’re cooking. Most people assume that oral surgery is also one of the many things expectant mothers just can’t do, but it’s a little more complicated than that. Here’s what you should know about getting wisdom teeth removed when you’re pregnant.
Weighing the Risks of Tooth Extraction During Pregnancy
Doctors spend a lot of time weighing the risks and benefits of any procedure or treatment a patient needs. When it comes to wisdom tooth extraction during pregnancy, careful deliberation is even more important. We need to decide if you and your baby are at higher risk if we extract your teeth or if we leave them in.
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, but generally speaking, wisdom teeth that are coming in or are fully erupted without complications should be left in—you can schedule your wisdom tooth extraction after the baby is born. If, on the other hand, your wisdom teeth are infected, it’s wise to move forward with extraction even during pregnancy. This is because the risks of dental infection far outweigh the risks of surgery—infection can quickly spread from the mouth to other parts of the body, putting your unborn baby at risk.
Fully and partially impacted wisdom teeth are more of a gray area. If your teeth are so painful that you can’t sleep or eat properly, we usually recommend moving forward with an extraction. It’s important for you to be healthy during your pregnancy and the risks of a one-time surgical procedure are less than spending an entire pregnancy in agony with impacted wisdom teeth.
Safety of Wisdom Teeth Removal in Pregnant Patients
The primary risks of wisdom tooth extraction during pregnancy are x-rays, anesthesia, and infection.
We need to take x-rays prior to your wisdom tooth extraction in order to plan your surgery. All x-rays involve exposure to radiation, but modern dental x-rays minimize this exposure, so with the use of a protective apron, there is little risk involved here.
At a minimum, we will use local anesthesia to numb your mouth before we begin any work. “Local” is key here—this anesthesia is targeted and it doesn’t travel throughout the body, so it’s safe to use during pregnancy. If you can get through your wisdom tooth extraction using only local anesthesia, that’s the safest possible option.
Anesthesia takes care of the pain involved, but in normal circumstances, many patients also opt for IV sedation during wisdom tooth extraction. While technically still conscious, IV sedation allows patients to “sleep” through their procedure; once it’s over, they have no memory of it. IV sedation is generally not recommended for pregnant patients, but when a case is complicated, we may work with your obstetrician to determine a safe method of sedation for you.
As with any surgery, there’s always a risk of infection involved with wisdom tooth extraction. If this should occur, there are a number of antibiotics that are safe for pregnant women.