Communicating the Importance of Dental Care During Pregnancy

Expectant mothers have a lot to keep track of, and misperceptions on the importance and safety of dental care during pregnancy can push oral health care to the bottom of the list. Medical professionals and family educators can drive home the value of dental care and increase the chance a woman will visit the dentist during her pregnancy.

By addressing the following three topics with expecting mothers, medical and dental professionals can help ensure pregnant women have a healthy pregnancy and baby.

Dental Visits During Pregnancy Are Safe and Necessary

There is a common misconception that dental visits are unsafe for expecting mothers. Not only are dental visits safe during pregnancy, they are an important part of prenatal care and can actually help reduce the risk of preterm birth or low birthweight. Pregnant women are more likely to develop cavities and gum disease; vomiting and/or sucking on sugary candy to prevent nausea can further exacerbate oral health issues. Sharing information about oral health and its importance during pregnancy will encourage dental visits and attention to oral health throughout the pregnancy

Pregnant Women Enrolled in Medicaid Have Access to Comprehensive Dental Coverage

Pregnant women in Virginia who are enrolled in Medicaid or FAMIS MOMS have access to dental care through a comprehensive dental benefit that covers preventive care, dental treatment and even dentures. Be sure to let pregnant patients know this coverage is available so they begin seeking care as early in the pregnancy as possible to ensure ample time for necessary care and treatment; this fact sheet from DMAS provides a great overview of covered services so pregnant patients know what is available to them.

Start the Conversation Early on Oral Health Care for Children

As our Virginia Oral Health Report Card shows, only 24% of Virginia children ages 1-2 enrolled in Medicaid received preventive oral care. Studies show that children are more likely to get oral health care when their parents regularly visit the dentist. The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that children begin seeing a dentist at age one or when their first tooth appears. It is important to communicate with expecting mothers that oral health care is critical for their children and that a dental visit before their child’s first birthday can have long-term health benefits. Starting conversations on childhood dental care during pregnancy, and continuing at follow up obstetric and pediatric visits, can help make preventive oral health care a part of every child’s health care experience.

For more provider and patient resources, visit our oral health and pregnancy page where we share educational videos, fact sheets, and more to help you best communicate the importance of oral health care during pregnancy.

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Lauren Sawyer