April 29, 2014

Oral Health during Pregnancy: Prenatal Health Care Providers Role

Oral health should be a core component of routine prenatal care for all pregnant women. Prenatal health providers who work with women can help to increase awareness of the importance of oral health promotion and treatment during pregnancy by:

  • Conducting brief oral health assessments
  • Educating pregnant women about the importance of their oral health, not only for overall health, but also for the health of their children
  • Asking women if they have any concerns/fears about getting dental care while pregnant and, as needed, informing women about the safety of dental care during pregnancy and addressing specific concerns
  • Encouraging all women at the first prenatal visit to see a dentist if a visit has not occurred within the past six months, or if a new condition has developed or is suspected
  • Developing collaborative relationships with oral health providers, including case management and a dental referral network
  • Learning about the dental care coverage available to individuals on Social Assistance and sharing this information as needed
  • Engaging in training and continuing education opportunities on perinatal oral health

April 22, 2014

Routine dental treatment such as cleanings and cavity fillings reduce the chance of infection. Dental treatment is safe during pregnancy. However, many women, including those with private insurance, do not seek – and are not advised to seek – dental care during pregnancy. Many women mistakenly believe they should avoid dental visits during pregnancy, and many dentists remain reluctant to treat pregnant women because they are unaware of current guidelines and/or fear liability issues. Only about one-quarter to one-half of women receive any dental care during their pregnancies. The likelihood of low-income and uninsured women receiving such care is even lower. Evidence based guidelines on oral health during pregnancy are available for oral health and prenatal health professionals at www.cdafoundation.org

April 15, 2014

Oral Health Tips during Pregnancy

Before conceiving and during pregnancy, women can take several steps to increase and protect their oral health, including:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, and floss daily.
  • Brush your tongue.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Limit sugary foods.
  • Make an appointment to see your dentist. Now, more than any other time, an exam of your teeth and gums is needed.

Women receive a lot of information about pregnancy. This includes information about many topics that impact the health of the mother and future baby. Some information is about before the baby is conceived and much is about during pregnancy. There is one topic that does not receive the attention that it should…oral health.

Oral health is a critical part of pre-pregnancy (preconception) and prenatal care, since pregnant women face an above-average risk of oral health problems. Pregnant women are prone to oral health problems because elevated hormone levels cause gums to swell, bleed, and trap food. Up to 30 percent of pregnant women have advanced forms of periodontal disease (severe gum disease). Oral infections during pregnancy may be linked to adverse pregnancy outcomes, including preterm birth and low birth weight.

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