Examining the safety of dental treatment in pregnant women

Bryan S. Michalowicz, Anthony J. Diangells, M. John Novak, William Buchanan, Panos N. Papapanou, Dennis A. Mitchell, Alice E. Curran, Virginia R. Lupo, James E. Ferguson, James Bofill, Stephen Matseoane, Amos S. Deinard, Tyson B. Rogers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

102 Scopus citations


Although clinicians generally consider it safe to provide dental care for pregnant women, supporting clinical trial evidence is lacking. This study compares safety outcomes from a trial in which pregnant women received scaling and root planing and other dental treatments. Methods. The authors randomly assigned 823 women with periodontitis to receive scaling and root planing, either at 13 to 21 weeks' gestation or up to three months after delivery. They evaluated all subjects for essential dental treatment (EDT) needs, defined as the presence of moderate-to-severe caries or fractured or abscessed teeth; 351 women received complete EDT at 13 to 21 weeks' gestation. The authors used Fisher exact test and a propensity-score adjustment to compare rates of serious adverse events, spontaneous abortiona/stillbirths, fetal/congenital anomalies and preterm deliveries (< 37 weeks' gestation) between groups, according to the provision of periodontal treatment and EDT. Results. Rates of adverse outcomes did not differ significantly (P > .05) between women who received EDT and those who did not require this treatment, or between groups that received both EDT and periodontal treatment, either EDT or periodontal treatment alone, or no treatment. Use of topical or local anesthetics during root planing also was not associated with an increased risk of experiencing adverse outcomes. Conclusions. EDT in pregnant women at 13 to 21 weeks' gestation was not associated with an increased risk of experiencing serious medical adverse events or adverse pregnancy outcomes. Data from larger studies and from groups with other treatment needs are needed to confirm the safety of dental care in pregnant women. Clinical Implications. This study provides evidence that EDT and use of topical and local anesthetics are safe in pregnant women at 13 to 21 weeks' gestation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)685-695
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American Dental Association
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2008


  • Dental care
  • Local anesthetics
  • Periodontics
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Preterm labor, safety management
  • Topical anesthetics


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