Oral Health & Pregnant Women Resource Center
A woman's teeth and gums may not seem like a priority during pregnancy, but oral infections can have significant consequences for her overall health, her pregnancy and her child. Research finds that four in 10 of all pregnant women have tooth decay or gum disease, and that a mother's oral health strongly predicts her child's oral health status. Although more than 70% of Medicaid-enrolled women are of childbearing age, and nearly half of U.S. births are covered by Medicaid, states are not required to offer dental benefits to Medicaid-eligible pregnant women.
While there is ample evidence that dental care is safe during pregnancy, more than 75% of obstetricians and gynecologists surveyed had patients who reported being declined dental services during pregnancy.
Reflecting the importance of oral health, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists encourages medical providers to counsel women about oral health and "the safety and importance of oral health care during pregnancy." The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Academy of Periodontology & the European Federation of Periodontology and this National Consensus Statement, convened by the National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center, also articulate the importance of care.
Federal agencies seek to empower women to take care of oral health, with materials from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services' Connecting Kids to Coverage campaign and the Office of Head Start.
Additionally, many states have taken steps to improve the oral health of pregnant women. Eleven states are now members of the Perinatal and Infant Oral health Quality Improvement National Learning Network, which the Children’s Dental Health Project leads in a cooperative agreement with the Health Resources and Services Administration and partners AMCHP, ASTDD and NASHP. Pioneered by New York and California, a number of states have also released guildelines promoting dental care for pregnant women, even when Medicaid dental benefits are not secured.
- Michigan (guidelines in progress)
- New York
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
For Policymakers & Health Professionals
- CDHP Fact Sheet: The Oral Health of Pregnant Women
- Infographic: Dental Care During Pregnancy Is Safe and Important (Note: This large file may take 20-25 seconds to open)
- Improving the Health of Pregnant Women and Young Children (2012)
- Improving Access to Perinatal Oral Health Care (2010)
- Oral Health Care During Pregnancy (Practice Guidelines)
- The Art of Perinatal and Infant Oral Health (Training Course)
For Parents & Caregivers
- Two Healthy Smiles: Tips to Keep You and Your Baby Healthy
- Cavity Free for Baby and Me
- "Healthy Mouths for You and Your Baby" (video)
- Tips for Good Oral Health During Pregnancy
- Why Dental Care in Pregnancy is Important
CDHP continually updates this page. If you have resources to share, please let us know.
Thanks to the American Dental Partners Foundation for funding this resource page.
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