Pregnant_womanDuring 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.

Education 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 while in the womb and as the infant is growing and developing. 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.”

The 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 visit a dentist. Share the handout today to help educate pregnant women about oral health.

If you are pregnant, take steps now to protect your oral health—and your baby’s—by preventing tooth decay. Make an appointment with your dentist; if you don’t yet have a dentist, check out the flyer for information on how to find a dental health care provider.