Anesthesiologist Questions Root Canal

Can you be put to sleep for a root canal while pregnant?

I'm 28, and I need to have a root canal on one of my back molars. Do you think I can be put to sleep for dental work if I'm pregnant? I'm only in my first trimester.

8 Answers

Most physicians would recommend delaying non-emergent elective surgery during pregnancy. Ask your OB/GYN for further guidance.
It's really not necessary. Local anesthesia works wonders and does not affect the baby as much.
No. Most anesthesiologists would reccomend against it
Absolutely not! Sorry but most dentists will not even give you a local anaesthetic while pregnant.
There is no clinical study showing that general anesthesia causes harm to the fetus. In general, no more congenital diseases after using general anesthesia during pregnancy. More low weight birth and spontaneous abortion may be associated to general anesthesia in the first trimester. Please keep in mind that the first trimester is a vulnerable period when the organs are developing, so the best thing is to avoid general anesthesia and surgeries at this time period. The best approach is to postpone surgical procedures after the delivery. Other option is to do local anesthesia for the root canal procedure. This procedure can be done with local anesthesia with minimal effect on the fetus. In summary: the safest way to do the root canal is after delivery. The second safest way to do local anesthesia is in the second or third trimester.
Root canals can be done in the dental office without sedation. Let your dentist know that you are pregnant. That will be the safest way to do it.
I wouldn’t provide you general anesthesia in the first trimester. The first trimester is crucial for fetal development and growth. You can have a nerve block over the tooth being worked on. The decision to give you midazolam and/or fentanyl IV during the root canal in the first trimester is controversial. Some anesthesiologists would and others wouldn’t. No Demerol for IV sedation. If you were my patient I would encourage just a nerve block. If it’s the dentist providing the sedation or offering you sedation, again only the nerve block. Relax your mind and be at peace during the root canal with just a nerve block. You will do great!
No one should have anything but local anesthetic for a root canal (a minor dental procedure!), especially a pregnant woman should not have any anesthetic except for a true emergency surgery for life- or limb-saving purposes!

Yi-Hwa Outerbridge, MD