Months before it was time to start trying for a family, I was reading dozens of parenting sites, blogs, and forums to ensure this journey is something my husband and I would not only benefit from, but could thrive during. In all of my reading and research I learned of the “many sacrifices new parents make.” But I didn’t imagine the amount of pain I would feel even before the baby arrived. Pre-parenting tooth troubles aren’t exactly listed in the baby books.
As a high school teacher, exam weeks leading up to long holiday breaks are a time to prepare for the resting, relaxation, and re-energizing our bodies and spirits need to return to school in January.
The last working Friday before my two-week break I had strong headaches. Somehow immune systems pick the best times to quit. This break wouldn’t be as restorative as this pregnant momma had hoped.
“Its probably just weird pregnancy related blood pressure” I assured my zero-medical-school-trained-self. “Or maybe its just your wisdom teeth causing pressure” I also guessed. Both were entirely plausible. I visited the dentist recently and was told they would need to come out. “But not until delivery, no one will want to remove them while you’re pregnant, too much risk” informed my dentist. This same dentist has also performed a filling that was strangely close to the pressure-head-achy region of my skull weeks before.
Increasing Pain and Anxiety
Saturday was met with stronger pains and pressure and I decided “to call Monday” if things didn’t settle down by then. After all, no dentist is answering the phone at 11AM on a Saturday.
Sunday, I woke up crying from pain with a swollen face and a fever. My husband informed me I looked like “a before AND after photo”. Luckily (or rather unluckily) I have been through this before and knew exactly what was happening, infection in the dead root of the recently filled tooth. Solution: root canal and antibiotics.
But last time, I wasn’t pregnant; this fact adds a new level of awesome to the situation.
“What is this infection in my face doing to my health, and the baby’s health?”
“What antibiotics are safe to take while pregnant?”
“Which pain meds are safe after dental work?”
“Does that x-ray vest really protect this forming human life?”
“Does that numbing juice cross the placenta?”
I did what any adult totally capable of taking care of myself and preparing for my growing family would do. I called my Mommy crying.
Calling the Doctor
A year or so ago, I experienced this same issue, but I asked far fewer questions because I wasn’t yet carrying a child. That Sunday morning, I called the endodontist who performed my last root canal.
Through pain, hormone, and fear fueled tears I explained what was happening to the endodontist. “And you mentioned you’re pregnant? Not ideal, but we can find something to make it work. You don’t need to be in this much pain. Come first thing in the morning.”
We tried for months to conceive this precious love growing inside of me, and lost one along the way. Not ideal!? To whom? It’s perfectly ideal to my partner and myself! What is not ideal about all of this is the tooth pain.
But alas, “pregnancy” sounds a lot like “liability” to insurance companies, not to mention nothing really gets “tested” on the pregnant…ethical qualms and all.
After barely sleeping, I was driven to the endodontist the next morning and the whole thing took less than an hour, after I asked a million baby-safety related questions.
Later that day I felt significantly better and had called my regular dentist to make the appointment to get a crown (necessary after root canals) and was on my way to recovery, or so I thought.
I woke up the next morning with a bigger face and a pocket of swollen infection on my gums above the root canal. “HOW IS THIS GETTING WORSE?” I sobbed.
I called my dentist pleading for him to drain the pocket so some swelling could go down, and I could heal the rest of the infection. “We can’t touch the area, you’ll have to call the endodontist who performed the root canal.”
Seems this liability thing is a recurring trend.
After more tears and phone calls, the endodontist had me come in to drain the infection from the area. This time I was in an out in less than 20 minutes.
The entire time I was being numbed, drained, and fixed I could feel my baby girl squirming and kicking harder than usual. I felt awful knowing my heart rate and adrenaline were creating such chaos in her little world.
I continued the antibiotics and didn’t have to use the script for pain medication and was enjoying the holiday hoopla within the week. My husband and I were also able to share news that the GROWING BABY IS A GIRL during the family festivities.
While there is nothing I could have done to avoid emergency dental work during pregnancy, it isn’t “ideal” and I would strongly encourage you to visit a dentist if you are currently considering family planning or trying to conceive. QUICKLY! Before you and baby become a liability.
Teeth Tips During Pregnancy:
If your morning sickness is causing vomiting, rinse your mouth out after each episode. Leaving acid to sit on your teeth is never a good idea.
Floss more often than usual. After EVERY meal. You don’t want to give bacteria a chance to grow in more places.
Research and ask any questions that make you feel more comfortable during procedures if they can’t be avoided.
Teeth can be weaker during pregnancy so get routine check-ups before, during, and after.