Atlanta Doula Connect

Oral Health During Pregnancy

Importance and Safety of Oral Healthcare during Pregnancy

  • Dental care during pregnancy is an essential part of health management for both mother and baby
  • Pregnant women are at increased risk for poor oral health including gingivitis (an early stage of gum disease) due to changing hormone levels as well as vomiting and acid reflux [1]
  • There is a strong association between periodontal disease and preterm deliveries.
  • During pregnancy, women are vulnerable to calcium loss if they are not attaining enough calcium in her diet [2]
  • Women are at increased risk for gingival hyperplasia and gingivitis during pregnancy

[1] March of Dimes. (2019). Dental Health During Pregnancy. Retrieved from https://www.marchofdimes.org/pregnancy/dental-health-during-pregnancy.aspx

[2] NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center. (2018). Pregnancy, Breastfeeding, and Bone Health. Retrieved from https://www.bones.nih.gov/health-info/bone/bone-health/pregnancy

Client Resources

Ask mothers if they have a dental home or in need of oral health resources. If they do not have a dentist or if urgent care is needed, direct them to the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia Resource Portal.

  • This resource can be used to find local dental providers and includes Medicaid providers
  • Mother can also call the Georgia Family Healthline at 1-(800)-300-9003

Medicaid Navigation Tools

Clients covered by Medicaid need to bring a completed DMA 635 form, which can be found and in the GAMMIS portal.

Oral Health Assessment and Integration

During the first prenatal education workshop, provide the following assessment:

  • Inform clients that sugar, tobacco, vapes, alcohol, marijuana and other recreational drugs have detrimental effects on oral health
  • Have clients reflect on the following:
    • Frequency of consuming beverages, food, and medications that contain sugar
    • Consumption of above substances

Advise clients:

  • Oral health care is safe during all trimesters and should not be postponed or avoided during pregnancy.
  • Even X-rays, local anesthesia, and most pain medications are important and safe during pregnancy (and they are covered by Medicaid)
  • Schedule an appointment with a dentist as early in pregnancy as possible.

Teach the following topics during prenatal education:

  • Brush twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush
  • Floss twice a day
  • Rinse with mouthwash regularly
  • Use fluoridated products

Advise clients to bring a “dental note” from their primary care providers to their dentists, stating that dental work is safe for the client.

  • Many dentists will not see pregnant women without an “okay” from their doctors.
  • Dentists who have been practicing for a while may not be updated on new standards of care for pregnant women.
  • For clients with Medicaid, bring a DMA 635 form, which also tells providers the estimated date of delivery.

Provide handouts at front desk and/or during prenatal education workshops.

Discussion Questions for your Client

  • Did you know about the association between poor oral health and preterm birth?
  • When was your last dental cleaning?
  • How often do you consume beverages, food, and medication that contain sugar?
  • How often do you use alcohol and/or recreational drugs?
  • How often do you brush and/or floss your teeth?

Questions to Consider for Yourself

  • How have you promoted oral healthcare during pregnancy during classes/workshops?
  • What is your understanding of the safety of oral healthcare during pregnancy?

Additional Resources