Oral Health Matters for Pregnant Women

Posted & filed under Fluoride, Oral Health, and Access to Care.

Guest blog contributed by the Children’s Dental Health Project

During pregnancy, women have many things to think about, but it’s also important for them to “think teeth.” The health of a woman’s teeth is actually linked to the health of her child. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has an excellent, free-to-order flyer that can be used by dental clinics, community health centers, WIC clinics and other settings to educate women about protecting their teeth and gums.

Pregnant_womanEducation is crucial because four out of 10 pregnant women have tooth decay or some form of gum disease. That decay and disease can impact her child. Some studies have found an association between periodontal (gum) disease and pre-term or low-birth weight babies. In addition, women with poor dental health have the potential to transmit cavity-causing bacteria to their children. Doing so raises kids’ risk of tooth decay.

Dental health for pregnant women is important, yet often overlooked. Some women mistakenly believe they should not receive dental care during pregnancy. Dentists may also believe that patient care should be delayed during pregnancy. In a survey of obstetricians and gynecologists, 77% said their patients had reported being declined dental services due to pregnancy.

However, this goes against strong evidence that dental care is safe — and recommended — during pregnancy. In 2013, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists issued recommendations that “women should be counseled about the maintenance of good oral health as well as the safety and importance of oral health care during pregnancy.”

Pregnant women in some states are eligible for free dental coverage through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Children enrolled in Medicaid/CHIP are covered for dental services.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) flyer mentioned earlier can be ordered in large quantities for free. It offers tips for pregnant women’s dental care, and it encourages them to see if they’re eligible for Medicaid enrollment. Share the handout today to help educate pregnant women about oral health.