Breast Feeding, Dental Care and Medications – A Guide for Nursing Mothers


Is it safe to be numbed up if I am breast-feeding? What medications can I take while nursing? When and how should I take my medications as to not endanger my baby? Do dental materials or medications show up in breast milk?

These are just a few of the questions that new mothers ask us. As a dentist at Camarillo Smiles, I have many patients concerned, and rightly so, about the possibility of harming or affecting the health of their nursing infant. So let’s tackle these questions right here. We like to follow the recommendations of trusted and science based organizations. These guidelines come from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Is Novocaine safe while breast-feeding? Yes and No. Firstly, we need to understand that there are several types of local anesthetics used in dentistry and some are safe and some are not. Novocaine hasn’t really been used in the US since the 40’s. These days Lidocaine is the most common. Articaine, Bupivacaine, Mepivacaine and Prilocaine are also used in dentistry. Lidocaine, Mepivacaine and Prilocaine are approved for use in nursing mothers while Bupivacaine needs to be avoided and Articaine (which is gaining popularity) should be avoided since there is not enough research yet to declare it safe.

What can I take for pain while I am nursing? Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or Acetaminophen (Tylenol). The AAP recommends caution with Naproxen (Naprosyn, Aleve), Codeine and Oxycodone (Percocet). Unsafe for your infant is Aspirin, Hydrocodone (Vicodin), Demerol and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs (Celebrex, Ansaid).

What Antibiotics can I take while breast-feeding? Amoxicillin is considered safe by the AAP. Clindamycin (Cleocin) and all Tetracyclines (Doxycycline, Minocin) should be avoided as they have been shown to have a potential for problems for your baby. Other antibiotics like Azithromycin (Zithromax), Clarithromycin (Biaxin) and Cephalexin (Keflex) are not our first choice and should only be prescribed cautiously to a nursing mother.

Can I take Valium while I’m nursing? No. Sedatives like Valium are not recommended during breast-feeding.

When taking medications while nursing, it is always best to take them right after a feeding.

  •  If you are taking a once a day medication, take it right after the feeding that precedes the longest sleeping interval.
  •  If you are taking a medication that you have to take several times a day, take it immediately after a feeding.

Are dental materials used to fill teeth toxic to my nursing infant? Amalgam (Mercury) fillings are usually at the heart of this question. Although there are plenty of stories about the dangers of amalgam on the internet, real science, good studies, just don’t support those stories. But with that said, there are wonderful alternative materials out there that are wonderful for restoring teeth. But, if you need to have an old amalgam filling replaced while breast-feeding, should you worry? Current modern science says no, but many people will. If you have a concern, isolating that tooth with a rubber dam and high-speed suction may help alleviate your concern.



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