Oral Health Care During Pregnancy, A Summary of Practice Guidelines

by Dr. Joyce Levitt on August 15, 2008

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Promoting Oral Health During Pregnancy During pregnancy, women’s bodies undergo complex physiological changes that can adversely affect oral health. For this reason, health professionals need to ensure that the pregnant women they serve receive needed oral health care.

Educating pregnant women about preventing dental caries is also critical. Evidence suggests that most infants and young children acquire caries-causing bacteria from their mothers. Improving the oral health of expectant and new mothers and providing oral health counseling to promote healthy behaviors may reduce the transmission of such bacteria from mothers to infants and young children, thereby delaying the onset of caries.

Several organizations have undertaken efforts to promote oral health during pregnancy. The National Center for Education in Maternal and Child Health published Bright Futures in Practice: Oral Health (supported by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau) to promote and improve the health and well-being of pregnant women, infants, children, and adolescents. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Periodontology, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Dental Association have issued statements and/or recommendations for improving the oral health of pregnant women, infants, and children. (See Resources.)

To reinforce these recommendations and to provide guidance, the New York State Department of Health convened an expert panel of health professionals involved in promoting the health of pregnant women, infants, and children. The panel reviewed literature; identified existing guidelines, practices, and interventions; assessed issues of concern; and developed recommendations.

Since it is unlikely that sufficient evidence will be available in the near future to make issuing evidence-based recommendations for all clinical situations feasible, the panel relied on expert consensus on issues for which controlled studies are not available.

While decisions about specific treatments must be made on a case-by-case basis, these recommendations provide general guidance for the purpose of bringing about changes in the health care delivery system and improving the overall standard of care. The panel anticipates that these recommendations will be reviewed periodically and updated as new information becomes available. Panel recommendations are summarized below.

Continue reading Oral Health Care During Pregnancy A Summary of Practice Guidelines (pdf)

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