Dental implants are an advanced form of dental technology to replace lost teeth. It is established that although dental implants are non-invasive to adjacent teeth, they do require surgery to be placed within the bone. This involves making an incision in the gums and exposing the underlying bone, then drilling a hole into the bone where the implant needs to be placed. Thereafter, an adequate healing time is required to allow the implant to osseointegrate within the bone successfully, after which a dental prosthesis such as a crown is placed over the implant.
Dental implants are normally indicated for anyone at any age as long as they are healthy enough to allow the implant to heal. A special consideration needs to be given to pregnant patients, whose candidacy for an elective implant surgery is highly debatable.
The Pregnant Dental Patient
Females in any trimester of their pregnancy need to be aware of all implications of undergoing elective surgical procedures. A pregnant woman experiences major physiological changes, such as altered hormonal levels which effect blood volumes and cardiovascular function- altering healing and response to treatment. Furthermore, drugs play a vital role in extensive dental procedures and care must be taken as to which drug is safe or can cause teratogenic effects on the unborn child. Needless to say, she is in a delicate state and every aspect of any dental treatment needs to be considered before it is carried out.
The blood of a pregnant patient is in a dilute, anemic yet hypercoagulable state. These conditions are not ideal when healing after surgery is to happen. Also, the pregnant patient is most likely in a pregnancy hypertensive state, which too is not favorable where bleeding will occur in a surgical procedure. Many drugs can cross the placenta and affect the fetus by simple diffusion. Thus, a dentist must make a good assessment on the risks and benefits of prescribing drugs to a pregnant patient. The drugs must be absolutely beneficial to mother and be least toxic when alternative drugs are available. The gestational period must be considered at all costs, so as to not harm the development of the baby.
Dental treatment during Pregnancy
Preventative dental procedures such as routine scaling and cleanings are generally considered safe by most dentists, and are even advised as the gums tend to undergo swelling during pregnancy, increasing the accumulation of plaque which can lead to oral infections. These have no known effects on the developing baby.
It is always wise to first consult with the patient’s physician and discussing the potential risks of undergoing dental treatment. Necessary treatment and drugs should not be withheld but elective surgeries should be preferably put off till after giving birth.
Regarding dental implant placement, dentists advise avoiding any elective surgical procedure on a pregnant patient in any trimester. The patient should wait till she gives birth, is free from nursing and is back to her normal physiological state before considering implant placement.