Pregnant or planning to get pregnant? Here is what you need to know about your dental health.
Changes to expect with your teeth while you are pregnant
- Due to hormonal changes, you may develop “Pregnancy Gingivitis” where your gums may bleed more and appear more puffy. You may notice bleeding occasionally when brushing or flossing when that did not happen prior
What to do about it: Continue brushing 2x/day with a soft toothbrush or electric toothbrush moving in gentle circles along the gumline and all surfaces of the teeth. Floss at the end of each day being careful to wrap the floss along the teeth and not straight into the gums. Consult your dentist for instruction if you are not clear.
- If you suffer from acid reflux or vomiting you may develop more cavities or acid erosion that wears your teeth
What to do about it: Before brushing, rinse your mouth with water and/or listerine to neutralize your mouth. Drink water frequently to keep the acid off of your teeth. Consider using higher fluoride toothpaste (prescription strength from your dentist) to strengthen your tooth structure and make it more resistant to erosion.
- Changes in your diet or timing of meals/snacks may lead to more cavities
What to do about it: Be aware that eating more simple carbohydrates (crackers, chips, or my personal favorite, cookies), sugary foods (candy, juice, etc.) could lead to more cavities. If you eat late at night or more frequently throughout the day this could also lead to cavities. Make sure to continue to brush morning after breakfast and night before going to bed. Drink mostly water thoughout the day. Be mindful of what you eat.
Is dental treatment safe?
- It is best to treat cavities, oral infections and gum disease to minimize risk to you and your baby. Inflammation puts strain on you and your baby. Gum disease is linked to cardiovascular problems. Abscesses could spread to different areas of your body and lead to a medical emergency.
- Local Anesthetics (with or without Epinephrine) is safe.
- NO Laughing Gas AKA Nitrous Oxide- This has been linked to risk to your growing baby. It is safe during labor though (I did this with my son!)
- Antibiotics are safe if you develop a tooth related infection. The types of pain medications recommended are dependent on your health so your doctor may be consulted.
- Radiographs are safe with lead protection over the belly and thyroid. Most dentists will do routine radiographs based on risk of getting cavities. If there is an infection or treatment is needed, a radiograph is likely going to be needed in order to perform the procedure safely.
What to know about Medicaid in North Carolina
Many women will find that once they are pregnant they may qualify for Medicaid if they are lower income. Medicaid fully covers preventative dental work (x-rays, cleanings, exams) as well as fillings, root canals on front teeth, removing teeth and making dentures. They will not cover root canals of back teeth, crowns/caps, implants, orthodontics/braces or certain types of dentures. Absolutely take advantage of this and get seen as soon as possible in your pregnancy so you can get treatment and have healthy gums and teeth! Make sure your dental provider accepts Medicaid prior to scheduling.
For more information visit these sites below or feel free to contact me, Dr. Holman at Dr.Holman@HolmanFDC.com