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Is a root canal treatment safe during pregnancy?

Q: One of my molar teeth broke four months back. The doctor did permanent filling on it saying that there may be 50% chance that it stays there without any decay and if pain starts, then root-canal treatment would be required. At present, there is pain after eating sometimes. Now my dentist has advised me to get the surgery done but I am 6 weeks pregnant. I am worried if the root canal treatment will harm my baby in any way Is it safe? Please advise. Also, I have had another root canal treatment some four years back but that tooth is on the opposite side. Why am I having the same tooth breakage problem all the time?

A:You seem to be quite disturbed so let me explain in detail. Whenever a tooth has a deep cavity, the chances of the nerve inside getting infected are high. What actually is done is that in a deep cavity we give a protective filling of calcium hydroxide and observe the tooth for 3 weeks. If there is no pain we go ahead with a permanent filling. However, if the tooth becomes painful a root canal treatment needs to be done. In your case if the pain has come back and is increasing most probably you require a root canal. Now a root canal is a perfectly safe procedure and has no side effects on the foetus (baby). The problem is that for an accurate & successful root canal we need to take X-rays which are of course not indicated during pregnancy. So in your case what I would recommend is to open the root canal area, drain out the infection and give periodic dressings every 2 or 3 weeks to not let the infection build up. This way we can tide over this period and after your delivery the root canal can be completed properly. Not doing anything means that the infection inside is building up and may escape into the bloodstream and cause problems to you or the baby. As for your tooth on the other side, it fractured because you did not get a crown put on it. Once a tooth is hollowed out because of a cavity it requires two procedures to save it : first a root canal is done to make the tooth healthy and second it needs to be capped (crowned) to give it strength to bear the chewing forces. Otherwise it can fracture.

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