Can You Get a Cavity Filled When Pregnant? Is It Safe?

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Written by Shandra Williams

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When you’re a pregnant woman, wouldn’t it be nice if absolutely everything went exactly right so that you didn’t have to worry about getting sick, finding pregnancy-safe medications, or undergoing any procedures?

It would, but unfortunately, that’s not always how the world works, so what if you need a cavity filled while pregnant; can you get that fixed, or should you wait until after you’ve given birth?

It’s safe to get a cavity filled when you’re pregnant, as long as you let your dentist know ahead of time that you’re pregnant so that s/he can take any special precautions needed to protect your developing baby. You also should avoid having a cavity filled during the first trimester.

This article will give you more information about getting cavities filled while pregnant, including looking at the different types of fillings you can get and determining which one is safest.

It will also touch on having a dental filling removed while pregnant, so keep reading for more information.

Can I Get a Dental Cavity Filled During Pregnancy?

You can safely get a cavity filled while pregnant. However, you may want to avoid doing so in the first trimester when morning sickness is still common. Additionally, you’ll want to talk to your dentist about the different types of fillings to see which one s/he recommends.

We’ll talk about the different types of fillings in one of the following sections, but for now, let’s talk about x-rays and anesthetics. 

Most dentists will x-ray your mouth to ensure you really do have a cavity and get an idea of what it looks like; the thought of mouth x-rays terrifies some moms-to-be. Fortunately, doctors primarily agree that necessary dental x-rays are safe for a pregnant woman if handled correctly (source: Medical College of Wisconsin). 

But what does it mean to handle an x-ray correctly? 

First of all, it means not having any x-rays done in the first two weeks of pregnancy. It also means following a few extra safety precautions, including: 

  • Wearing a lead apron in a strategic location to help protect the developing fetus from the potentially harmful radiation
  • Scheduling the x-ray at the perfect time (not too early into the pregnancy but not too close to the due date, either)
  • Getting all necessary x-rays done in a single session to avoid having to have them done again (source: Mayo Clinic)

As for anesthetics, most dentists use Lidocaine for filling cavities, and Lidocaine and other local anesthetics have been certified as relatively safe for use by pregnant women when there’s a legitimate need (sources: International Journal of Women’s Dermatology & IOS Chattanooga). 

However, if at all possible, you’ll want to wait until the second trimester to have dental work done. For one thing, that’s the safest time to have x-rays and use anesthetics; however, it’s also going to be better for you and the dentist if you’re over your morning sickness.

Having someone’s hands in your mouth when you’re already nauseous won’t be pleasant.

pregnant woman getting cavity filled by a male dentist

Pregnancy and Cavities: What You Need to Know

As we all know, pregnancy gives you that “new mom” glow. However, for some women, it can have the opposite effect on their teeth. 

The hormones your body releases while you’re pregnant can cause you to suffer from tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease (source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). 

Your eating habits are likely to change, as well, and introducing new foods – or more sugary foods – into your diet doesn’t do great things for your teeth, either. Staying on top of your brushing and flossing routine can help, but if you do get a cavity, it’s important to have it treated.

It can set up a dental infection if you don’t, which could worsen, spread, and become genuinely hazardous to both you and your growing baby. 

One interesting scientific discovery is that xylitol (often found in gum and other products) may help to prevent cavities when you’re pregnant. Read more about xylitol when pregnant here.

White vs Amalgam (Silver) Fillings When Pregnant

There are two distinct types of dental fillings: white fillings and amalgam (silver) fillings. White fillings typically include glass ionomers (porcelain) and resin-based composites (source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration). 

These “white” fillings are safer than the more traditional silver fillings because the silver ones contain mercury. However, the white fillings aren’t as strong, durable, or long-lasting as the dental amalgam fillings. Even so, you may want to talk to your dentist about getting the white fillings – or a temporary filling – if you’re pregnant. 

While the amount of mercury in a silver filling is minimal, it’s still there. Furthermore, according to the FDA, “Some studies have shown a relationship between the number of amalgam fillings a mother has and mercury levels in umbilical cord blood.”

This same article goes on to say, however, that the data derived from those studies didn’t find “any certain associations with harmful health effects.” 

Unfortunately, the study sample was small, so just because they didn’t find any adverse health effects doesn’t mean there are none. 

amalgam fillings on teeth

What About Having a Filling Removed During Pregnancy?

You should not have a filling removed while you’re pregnant unless it is absolutely unavoidable, and the potential risk of leaving the filling is worse than the potential risk of removing it. Most fillings are amalgam and contain mercury, making them riskier to extract. 

The process of removing these fillings can lead to increased exposure to mercury vapor, which can be detrimental to your health and the health of your baby (source: Mayo Clinic).

Removing white fillings is less dangerous, but since those have only recently become popular, the likelihood of you having one that needs extracting is unlikely. Most dentists and OBGYNs agree that filling removals should be avoided while pregnant.

Overall, if you have a cavity that needs dental filling, don’t delay! Having it filled by a professional puts you at minimal risk of problems, and the dangers posed by any potential oral infection far outweigh them.

However, if you need to have a filling drilled out or replaced, then it’s a conversation best had with your doctor and dentist to discuss your options.