Are Novocaine and Breastfeeding Compatible?

Dental work may be necessary while you are nursing your new baby, so you may want to know if novocaine is safe for breastfeeding. Novocaine is an anesthetic used in dental procedures to numb the area the dentist will be working on. It is given by injection locally to the surrounding tissues and a small amount may enter the bloodstream. There have been only a few studies done on the safety of using novocaine in a breastfeeding mother, so it is good to make an informed decision about your dental work.

Are Novocaine and Breastfeeding Compatible?

Research studies done on breastmilk showed that the amount of novocaine that got into breastmilk was actually very small. The mothers were given novocaine via IV line, and injected into the skin in high doses. When infants were tested they only found trace amounts and the anesthetic was not well absorbed by their bodies.

Some people have reported that very early on, newborns exposed to any novocaine used in labor and delivery may have been affected when breastfeeding just after delivery. This was found to be controversial because they are only patient reported events. Some researchers believe that it may be a combination of novocaine with other drugs used in labor and delivery such as pain medications and not effects of the anesthetic. The studies conclude that there are no adverse reactions in infants whose mother received novocaine.

If you have been wondering about novocaine and breastfeeding, dental professionals have found that dental work that includes novocaine, x-ray materials and other substances have not been found to have any effect on breastfeeding or the mother's milk supply.

If you are having dental work and having a hard time making a decision about what to use for anesthetic, it is best to talk to your doctor or lactation consultant for the best advice.

Other Dental Treatment and Breastfeeding

Having sedation or anesthetic for dental work during breastfeeding is ultimately up to you. There are other options available if you don't choose to use novocaine. You can always ask your dentist about these choices:

1. Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous oxide gas (laughing gas) is one way to be sedated for dental procedures. It has no effect on infants and does not stay in the bloodstream very long. The elimination is very rapid and has not been found in breastmilk or the infant's bloodstream. The only issue that has been found with nitrous oxide is that it doesn't have strong pain relieving properties.

2. Oral Sedation

Instead of worrying about novocaine and breastfeeding, there are alternative mild drugs that you can use for oral sedation. The only issue is that some may remain in your breast milk and cause your infant to become sleepy. Your doctor may recommend that you "pump and dump" some of your breast milk for a certain period of time after your dental work.

3. General Anesthesia

Doctors mostly agree that breastfeeding mothers can go under general anesthesia for dental work and breastfeed their baby without harm. The type of general anesthesia used in dental and oral surgery offices is actually a type of light sedation that is mild and wears off quickly. Mothers usually nurse just before oral surgery and then nurse after they exit the recovery room. The only complication could be not being alert enough to safely hold your baby.

4. Pain Medications

If you have to have major dental work done while breastfeeding, you will want to know any pain medications that will be okay to take after the procedure. It is always best to ask your doctor which medications they recommend. The common pain medications used in breastfeeding mothers are ibuprofen and acetaminophen.

Dental Care Tips in Pregnancy

Besides the compatibility of novocaine and breastfeeding, knowing the daily dental care tips is equally important. The best way to avoid needing major dental work done while you're breastfeeding is to take very good care of your teeth while you are pregnant. This can help avoid major issues. The hormones in pregnancy can be hard on teeth and lead to things like bleeding gums, decay, and plaque buildup.

Here are some tips to keep your teeth healthy while you are pregnant and breastfeeding:

1. Brush and Floss Often

If you experience severe morning sickness, the acid on your teeth can cause decay and dental issues. If you are vomiting, make sure to brush your teeth after every episode. Your body also deals with sugars and bacteria differently during pregnancy so you will want to step up your brushing.

You will notice that your gums bleed more due to increased estrogen and progesterone levels. Flossing a few times a day helps to clean plaque and debris and actually reduces the amount of bleeding from the gums.

2. Get Your Teeth Cleaned

Dentists may have you wait on dental work while you are pregnant unless it is an emergency, but you may be able to get your teeth cleaned. Keep up with your regular 6 month teeth cleanings during your pregnancy. You can always wait on x-rays until after the baby is born, but still get your check-up.

3. Avoid Sweets

Since pregnancy hormones affect your mouth, you will want to avoid too many sweets during pregnancy. It is more important now than ever before to brush your teeth after eating any sweets if you have eaten them. If you do get a craving for something sweet, here are a few good ideas:

  • Sugar-free ice pops
  • Sugar-free jello
  • Fresh fruits
  • Dark chocolate
  • A glass of chocolate milk
  • Chocolate dipped banana
  • Sugar-free candy

4. Eat Healthy

This gets talked about a lot during pregnancy, but eating healthy can help your teeth too. Try to stick to fresh foods, lean meats, and low sugar drinks. Try to stay away from fast food, processed food and high calorie beverages.

5. Use Fluoride Products

Check with your local water company to make sure your city water contains Fluoride. If your water does not contain it you may need a supplement. Drink fluoridated bottled water and use fluoridated dental products. Fluoride is not known to harm a fetus during pregnancy or breastfeeding infants.