How to Deal With a Tooth Infection While Pregnant

Beautiful woman having toothache
See your dentist promptly if you have a tooth infection during pregnancy. (Image: AdamGregor/iStock/Getty Images)

During pregnancy, your gums might tend to swell due to hormonal changes. You also might be prone to dental decay during this time, which can lead to a tooth infection. While it is best to avoid nonessential dental work during pregnancy, an infection can spread and cause serious health problems, and must be treated promptly. Always tell any medical or dental provider who works on you that you are pregnant because it might have a large impact on your care.

Step 1

Call your dentist for an appointment. Let the receptionist know what your symptoms are and that you are pregnant so she can get you in to see the dentist promptly.

Step 2

Make yourself comfortable in the dental chair. Bring a pillow to place under the small of your back and don't cross your legs. If you are in your third trimester, avoid lying on your back; angle yourself toward the dentist instead.

Step 3

Ask for more local anesthetic if you are feeling discomfort. According to the American Pregnancy Association, the risk to your baby of using lidocaine, the most commonly used dental anesthetic, is small. If you are uncomfortable, it puts stress on your baby, so speak up if you feel pain.

Step 4

Take the antibiotics that your dentist prescribes. Most antibiotics are safe during pregnancy; check with your health care provider if you are unsure. Finish the entire course, even if you are feeling better within a few days.

Step 5

Ask your health care provider which pain relievers are safe to take during pregnancy. You might be able to take acetaminophen, but if that is not relieving your pain, ask for a prescription that is safe for your baby. Take the pain pills only if you need them; you do not need to finish a prescription for pain relief if you are feeling better.

Tip

Maintain good dental hygiene during your pregnancy. Brushing, flossing and seeing your dentist when you are due for a cleaning can help prevent dental infections.

Warning

If you have symptoms of a dental infection, including a fever, swelling, pain or pus drainage, on a weekend or when you can't reach your dentist, call your health care provider right away; he might want to prescribe an antibiotic or see you promptly.

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