As previously discussed in Part 1, dental problems and pregnancy has been a long-standing problem based on limited access of pregnant women to dental services. This is especially true for pregnant women who have Medicaid coverage. However, your obstetrician should be your advocate and assist the dentist in treating your dental problems safely. Here is an excerpt from the Smart Mother’s Guide to a Better Pregnancy that will hopefully help pregnant moms work around this dilemma:
- Try to avoid having procedures before twelve weeks if possible
- Obtain a letter from your obstetrician advising the dentist what type of treatments you can have and what you can’t have while you are pregnant
- Make sure that your dentist always covers you with a lead apron if you require x-rays
- Avoid extractions and invasive procedures until after delivery, if possible
- Do not use tetracycline antibiotics because they will stain the fetus’s teeth
- Make sure you have antibiotics after tooth extractions. (I managed a patient during my residency training many years ago who died from infections after having an extraction because she didn’t receive antibiotics.)
- Consult your healthcare provider before using ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or naproxen (Aleve) for pain because these medications can potentially reduce the fluid around the baby.
- If you are having challenges trying to find a dentist who will see you, try to find a federally qualified community health center that might have a dentist on staff. You should also contact your health insurance plan to see if they can refer you to a dentist who is on their provider panel.
- If you are experiencing dental pain and are having challenges finding a dentist who will see you because of your Medicaid insurance, contact your Congressman’s office. They have staff assistants who are paid to help their constituents.
- If you live in a community that has a dental school, see if they will see you as a patient. Yes, you will have student dentists taking care of you but they will be under the supervision of a licensed, practicing dentist.
Remember, a healthy pregnancy doesn’t just happen. It takes a smart mother who knows what to do.