Oral Surgery & Pregnancy
Pregnancy (apart from other problems) can cause
significant effects in the mouth and can affect dental  

Oral Effects and Management Considerations

Oral Effects

  • Aggravated gum disease (gingivitis) and the
  • development of ‘stalked’ gum tissue (epulis formation)
  • Variable effect on recurrent oral ulcers (aphthæ)

Management Considerations

  • Risk of low blood pressure and fainting when laid flat
  • Possible raised blood pressure of pregnancy
  • Possible anæmia (iron / folate deficiency)
  • Vomiting especially with General Anæsthesia (GA)

Occasionally, recurrent oral ulcers (
aphthæ) resolve during
pregnancy but may worsen due to
iron / folate anæmia.

Receiving dental treatment during pregnancy is not
considered to be taboo any more.  However, surveys of
obstetricians show that they prefer dental treatment to
take place during the
second trimester, if possible.

Oral Surgery or elective dentistry should be postponed
until after the baby is born, or,
in extremis, in the second

During the
first trimester, organ development of the fœtus
is taking place.  During the
third trimester, it can be
uncomfortable for the mother to lie back in the dental chair,
especially for an extended period of time.  In addition, if it
is a particularly stressful situation for the mother, there is
the slight possibility that premature labour may be induced.

Local anæsthesia is generally safe.

Possible Hazards to the Fœtus from Dental Procedures

  • X-rays are hazardous especially in first trimester
  • Reduced drive to breathe due to sedatives
  • Staining of teeth due to the use of certain types of
    antibiotics (such as doxycycline or tetracycline)
  • Theoretical risk of depressed vitamin B12 metabolism
    by nitrous oxide (‘laughing gas’, used in GA)
  • Prilocaine and articaine (local anæsthetics) may  
    cause methæmoglobinæmia (raised levels of
    methæmoglobin that can cause tissues to be deprived
    of adequate oxygen) which can lead to blue-baby
  • Theoretical risk of womb (uterine) contraction caused
    by felypressin (a component of some local
  • Fœtal malformation risk from certain drugs such as
    thalidomide (now used for certain immune disorders),  
    retinoids (used for certain skin conditions), etretinate  
    (used experimentally for certain types of ‘white  
    patches’ in the mouth), azathioprine (used for certain  
    immune disorders including Behçet's syndrome) and  
    possibly other drugs
  • Aspirin may cause bleeding in the newly born
The main risks of fœtal abnormalities comes from drugs and radiation; the hazard
is greatest during the
first trimester.

The risk from dental X-rays are small but only essential radiographs should be
taken, the minimal radiation exposure should be given and the patient should wear
a lead apron.

Few drugs are known to cause fœtal malformations for humans and in many
cases, the risk is no more than theoretical or results only from prolonged high

Useful Websites & Articles:

British Dental Health Foundation


Medscape Today News

J Canadian Dent Assoc 2009.  Clinical Practice. Oral Health Care for the Pregnant

JADA 2011.  For The Dental Patient...Oral Health during Pregnancy.  What to
Expect when Expecting

Dental Update 2012.  Oral Healthcare Considerations for  the Pregnant Woman

BDJ 2016.  Drug Therapy during Pregnancy - Implications for Dental Practice
Last Updated 5th May 2016