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Health Team

Dentist visits encouraged for pregnant women

Posted October 26, 2012

Regular dentist visits are recommended for pregnant women.
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— Seeing a dentist regularly is a good idea for everyone – especially for pregnant women. 

Gianna Marini is about a month away from having her first child. She doesn't neglect seeing her doctor or getting regular dental care.

"I just think that your overall health starts with your oral health," Marini said.

Doctors and dentists have not always taken advantage of that connection.

"We've been trying to promote dental care in our pregnant patients," said Dr. Alice Chuang of UNC Obstetrics and Gynecology. "As an OB-GYN, it's definitely not a topic I was taught to frequently address with patients."

That's why UNC's medical and dental schools are collaborating on a new program with pregnant patients, promoting oral health as it relates to the baby's health.

Dentist visits encouraged for pregnant women Dentist visits encouraged for pregnant women

Fourth year UNC dental student Lindsay Carlton says her pregnant patients are very interested in the facts she shares about periodontal disease. It increases the risk of preterm birth and low birth weight, and it can cause problems later.

"Once the baby is already born, within the first 6 to 12 months, the mom can pass certain bacteria that's in her mouth physically to the baby," Carlton said.

Some pregnant women actually decide to put off seeing their dentist until after the baby is born, but that's bad advice.

"Pregnant women tend to have some more gum problems and sometimes they'll have more decay problems," said Scott Eidson, an associate professor of dentistry at UNC.

These visits are also a great time to promote regular brushing and flossing at home, which, if followed, are more likely to be passed on to the next generation.

3 Comments

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  • Gr8Fun Nov 1, 9:30 a.m.

    I think more dentists/hygenists should be taught how pregnancy impacts the teeth. I recently went for my cleaning and was 5 months pregnant. They didn't guide me on the impact of my teeth on my pregnancy - just a standard cleaning. Although, she did mention how much my gums were bleeding (apparently pregnant women's gums bleed during the cleaning because the increased blood flow). It would be great if the OB and dentist joined forces to promote a healthy baby... who knew my teeth were so important to my little bundle inside?!?

  • rdanico Oct 30, 2:39 p.m.

    I never had a cavity in my life, and see the hygenist and dentist every 6 months. A few months after my daughter was born I had 6 teeth fixed where cavities had occurred.

  • dmccall Oct 29, 8:26 a.m.

    yes, Yes, YES!! I 100% agree with this article. In addition we want the expecting mother's level of inflammation low so that the immune response doesn't interfere with fetal development. In some cases gum disease or tooth disease can be enough of a load to cause such an interference. Please see your dentist. It's about more than just teeth!