Can You Get Braces When Pregnant? Safety + Risks

There are plenty of things women can’t – or at least shouldn’t – do while they’re pregnant that everyone knows. They can’t drink or smoke; they can’t play contact sports; they can’t even fly after a certain point in their pregnancies. But what about other things that aren’t such common knowledge, such as getting braces?

You can safely get braces while pregnant, but you should let your orthodontist know about the pregnancy before he prescribes any medication or performs any x-rays or other procedures. Additionally, it’s better if you don’t get braces if you’re nearing the end of your pregnancy.

This article will go into more detail about the ins and outs of getting braces while pregnant, including what you can do and what you shouldn’t do. Keep reading to find out more.

woman showing her blue braces

Can You Get Braces While Pregnant?

Pregnant women can get braces, but there are things to consider before doing so. Remember, you can’t take certain medicines while pregnant, so there are several that painkillers won’t be an option if you’re in pain. Plus, it takes a couple of hours to get braces, and sitting can be uncomfortable. 

Still, don’t let all of that scare you away from getting braces if you want or need them. If you’re early enough in your pregnancy, most orthodontists agree that getting braces is a safe and easy process (sources: Fry Orthodontic Specialists, Orthodontic Associates, & Greater Hartford Orthodontists).

However, just because it’s safe doesn’t mean you should pop down into an orthodontist’s chair without letting him know that you’re pregnant. There are plenty of reasons that both your dentist and orthodontist need to know you’re pregnant, even though they won’t deal directly with your pregnancy. 

One of the most important reasons for letting them know has to do with x-rays. For the most part, doctors advise against getting any unnecessary x-rays while you’re pregnant, especially during the first two weeks of your pregnancy. 

However, for the most part, x-rays are considered safe for pregnant women as long as proper precautions are taken, and the benefits of the x-ray outweigh the risks – which are, admittedly, small (source: Medical College of Wisconsin). 

That means that you can go to the dentist or even to the orthodontist to get braces while you’re pregnant.

You can also get x-rays taken, but your orthodontist needs to know about your pregnancy beforehand so that he can take those proper precautions to protect you and your baby both. These safety measures include, but aren’t limited to, the following: 

  • Having you, the mother, wear extra lead padding or a lead apron.
  • Placing the lead padding in specific, optimal locations to best protect your developing baby.
  • Postponing the x-ray until a safer time if you’re in the early stages of pregnancy.
  • Postponing the x-ray until you’ve given birth if you’re incredibly close to your due date or there are reasons to avoid it.
  • Ensuring they get all the images they need in one session instead of asking you to return for multiple x-ray sessions (source: Mayo Clinic).

Many women also have concerns about the original dental molds the orthodontist must take to help prepare them for their braces. Are those molds safe?

That nasty-tasting substance your dentist will put into your mouth to take a mold is called alginate, and while it may make you want to vomit from the taste, it’s 100% safe for you and your fetus (source: Science Direct). 

Another big concern about pregnancy and braces is whether or not pregnant women can take the painkillers most people need after getting braces. There’s both good and not-so-good news on this front. 

Several orthodontists recommend taking Tylenol and Advil to help cut down on the soreness, with many prompting you to “take a dose of Tylenol and a dose of Advil together for the first day or two.” However, this isn’t possible for pregnant women (source: Jaffe Orthodontics). 

Tylenol is fine – according to most doctors and healthcare professionals, taking Tylenol and other acetaminophen-based painkillers – in moderation – is okay for pregnant women (source: The University of New Mexico). 

(However, it’s important to note that some studies claim too much Tylenol may be linked to increased risks for autism (source: John Hopkins University).) 

Advil, however, is problematic. Many doctors, studies, and even the Advil website advises women not to take Advil or any ibuprofen-based painkillers while pregnant, particularly in the third trimester. Doing so can lead to severe problems with your baby’s kidneys (sources: Advil & US Food and Drug Administration). 

However, braces shouldn’t be a problem if your pain tolerance is high and you’re not worried about needing to take too many painkillers. (Additionally, in most cases, they don’t make your teeth too sore.) Here are some other ways to relieve pain (if you do have any):*

ICEWRAPS 4” Round Reusable Gel Ice Packs with Cloth Backing - Hot Cold Pack for Kids Injuries, Breastfeeding, Wisdom Teeth, First Aid - 5 Pack

  • Apply cold compresses: ICEWRAPS Reusable Gel Ice Packs are perfect for this purpose, as they’re inexpensive, come five to a pack, and are – as the name states – reusable.
  • Drink smoothies, milkshakes, and other cold drinks.
  • Suck on ice cubes: The small “pellet” ice cubes from places like Sonic, Jimmy Johns, and Zaxby’s are ideal for this purpose. 
  • Swish with warm salt water.
  • Use orthodontic wax: GUM Orthodontic Wax is an inexpensive option, and I prefer it to other brands because it contains both aloe vera and vitamin E to help soothe your aching gums.
  • Use Orajel (only if your doctor says it’s okay) (source: Kevin Hodges Orthodontics).

GUM - 10070942007235 Orthodontic Wax with Vitamin E and Aloe Vera (Pack of 6)

Finally, you shouldn’t wait until right before your due date to get braces. While the process isn’t unduly painful, it can be uncomfortable, stressful, and even a little painful. As you probably already know, stress and pain can cause all kinds of issues, including spurring you into labor. 

Furthermore, the closer you are to your due date, the larger you probably are and the more uncomfortable it probably is for you to sit around for long periods, which is something you’ll have to do while getting fitted for your new braces. 

So, for all those reasons and more, it’s best to get your braces early on in your pregnancy if you’re going to get them. 

Can You Get Free Braces if You’re Pregnant?

You probably won’t be able to get free braces if you’re pregnant unless your state-sponsored insurance plan specifically covers adult braces. This won’t have anything to do with your pregnancy, though. For those of you in the UK, the NHS will cover braces for pregnant women (source: Diamond Braces).

Can I Have Braces Removed or Adjusted During Pregnancy?

You should be able to have your braces adjusted as usual while pregnant as long as you talk to your orthodontist about your pregnancy beforehand. If it’s time to remove them, that’s also safe, but you won’t have to remove them strictly because you’re pregnant. 

Again, all this is contingent upon your doctors – OBGYN and orthodontist – agreeing that it’s safe for you to have braces, undergo braces-related procedures, etc. You’ll also be limited in the number of pain relievers you can take, so be aware of that beforehand. 

Finally, if any of your dental or orthodontic procedures require putting you to sleep or giving you harder drugs, you may not be able to have those procedures done until after you give birth and stop breastfeeding.

Final Thoughts

If you’re nervous because you’re pregnant but were supposed to get braces soon, don’t be – in most cases, the process is perfectly safe and simple. Just be sure you reveal everything to your doctors beforehand so they can work together to provide you with the best course of treatment.