Oral health is a critical part of prenatal care, since pregnant women face an above-average risk of dental problems, and oral infections during pregnancy may be linked to adverse pregnancy outcomes.

However, many pregnant women do not get recommended dental care, either because they mistakenly believe they should avoid such care during pregnancy or because they face barriers to accessing care.

Pregnancy Time for Smiling Poster

Materials are available to prenatal and oral care providers in Saskatchewan to promote the importance and safety of oral care among pregnant women and young children. Materials include a poster, 2 information cards, a counter-top display with tear-off information cards, a fact sheet, and a prenatal education presentation. Print copies of these resources are available while supplies last. For more information on ordering print copies, please select “Resources” from our main menu, then Publications. Alternatively, the poster, information cards, fact sheet, and prenatal education presentation can be downloaded from the Publications section of this website.

Improving the Oral Health and Pregnant Women and Young Children


A Saskatchewan Consensus Document

The document was developed to influence oral and prenatal care providers in Saskatchewan toward a better understanding of the importance and safety of oral care during pregnancy so oral care becomes part of routine prenatal care.


Oral Health Project Partners:

Oral Health Project Partners

University of Saskatchewan College of Dentistry Population Health Unit University of Saskatchewan College of Nursing Saskatchewan Dental Hygienists Association Saskatchewan Oral Health Coalition Saskatoon Health Region

Pregnant women are at increased risk for oral disease

Pregnant women are prone to dental 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).

Possible impact of oral disease on pregnancy outcomes: Although the evidence is mixed, some studies have linked oral infections during pregnancy to adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as preterm birth and low birth weight.


Link between Mother’s Oral Health and Infant’s Oral Health

Health Mom and Baby
The prevention of oral disease in children begins during pregnancy and the postpartum period after birth. Proper education and oral health services for pregnant women can significantly benefit children’s oral health. Tooth decay begins when cavity-causing bacteria is passed to an infant (babies are not born with these bacteria). Mothers are the most common sources of bacteria transmission which can occur when sharing spoons or pacifiers. Women with good oral health practices, including visiting a dentist during pregnancy, are less at risk of passing the bacteria on to their infants and promote lifelong good oral health for both themselves and their children.

Lack of oral care during pregnancy

Health Lack of oral care
Routine dental procedures such as cleanings and cavity fillings reduce the chance of infection and can be done safely 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.


Oral care – a critical component of prenatal care

Health Oral Care
Physicians, nurses, and allied health professionals are more likely to see pregnant women than are oral health professionals and are, therefore, important partners in providing early risk assessment, anticipatory guidance, and referrals for dental exams and treatment. However, many prenatal providers fail to discuss oral health with their patients or refer their patients regularly for dental care. Oral health is not discussed with women as frequently as other prenatal health issues such as breastfeeding, HIV testing, smoking, and drinking.

Additional Resources

Maternal Oral Health Reports