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Getting Dental Work and Breastfeeding: Is It a Good Idea?

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If you've ever been pregnant, you may have given up some things for the sake of your developing baby: certain types of cheese, your morning cup of coffee or your evening glass of wine. You might have also stepped up your medical care and dental health routine to keep your body in the best condition possible.

After your baby arrives, if you decide to breastfeed them, there are still items you'll likely need to limit, such as caffeine and certain types of seafood, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But what about dental work and breastfeeding? If your dentist wants to fill a cavity or perform another treatment, would you have to stop breastfeeding your baby?

Can You Get Dental Work While Breastfeeding?

Just as you kept up with your dental visits and exams during your pregnancy, it's important to keep on seeing your dentist when you're breastfeeding. Taking care of your body after birth is critical, as the Office on Women's Health notes. When your entire body is healthy, you'll be able to provide the best care to your baby.

If you have a dentist's appointment coming up, be sure to let your dentist know at the start of the visit that you're breastfeeding. That way, if you need dental work that requires medication, or if you need treatment that would require you to take antibiotics afterward, your dentist can tailor the medications to ensure that they're safe for your baby, as the American Dental Association (ADA) explains.

Medications to Avoid When Breastfeeding

For the most part, the medications you take have little to no effect on your milk supply or your infant, as the CDC notes. However, there are some medications that might not be a good choice for breastfeeding moms. These may include antidepressants and certain pain medications, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Antibiotics that would be given to a baby to prevent or treat infection are usually safe for a breastfeeding mother to take.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine maintains a Drugs and Lactation Database, which contains a list of nearly every medication available and provides detailed information on its potential effect on a nursing baby. It also offers alternative options to medications that could be harmful to nursing infants.

Is Anesthesia Safe When Breastfeeding?

During dental work, your dentist might need to give you an anesthetic to numb the area being treated or a sedative to help you relax during the treatment. An article published in Breastfeeding Medicine notes that there aren't that many controlled studies examining the effects of anesthesia on breastfeeding mothers, but the general consensus is that moms can resume breastfeeding right after receiving short-term anesthesia, such as that administered for a tooth extraction. The article notes that moms who have healthy term babies can usually begin breastfeeding as soon as they feel alert and awake again, with no negative effects on the baby.

The Importance of Maintaining Your Oral Care

Although it's natural to want to put your baby first, self-care is critical when you're a new mom. If you're not feeling your best, it can be challenging to give your little one the care they need. If your dentist recommends a dental procedure to fix a cavity, restore a tooth or treat gingivitis, your best option is to have the treatment performed as soon as possible. As the ADA notes, neglecting your own oral care can make dental concerns such as cavities or gum disease worse.

Your dentist is ready to help you get the dental care and treatment you need and to tailor that treatment to meet your needs and those of your nursing baby. Ask them for advice if you have any questions about dental work and breastfeeding, including what your treatment options are.

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This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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