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Oral Health Care During Pregnancy: A National Consensus Statement

Summary of an Expert Workgroup Meeting


Talking Points
Introduction
Pregnancy is a unique period during a womans life and is characterized by complex
physiological changes, which may adversely affect oral health. At the same time, oral health is
key to overall health and well-being. Preventive, diagnostic, and restorative dental treatment is
safe throughout pregnancy and is effective in improving and maintaining oral health.
Health professionals often do not provide oral health care to pregnant women, and pregnant
women, some with obvious signs of oral disease, often dont seek or receive oral health care. In
many cases, neither pregnant women nor health professionals understand that oral health care is
an important component of a healthy pregnancy.
Educating pregnant women about preventing and treating dental caries is critical. Evidence
suggests that most infants and young children acquire caries-causing bacteria from their mothers.
Providing pregnant women with counseling to promote healthy oral health behaviors may reduce
transmission of such bacteria from mothers to infants and young children, thereby delaying or
preventing the onset of caries.
Many national organizations have issued statements and recommendations for improving oral
health care during pregnancy, including the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the
American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Periodontology, the American
Academy of Physician Assistants, the American College of Nurse-Midwives, the American
College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Dental Association. Several states,
including New York, California, South Carolina, and Washington, have all developed guidelines
for perinatal oral health care.
These activities provided a strong foundation for the Health Resources and Services
Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau, to convene an expert workgroup meeting in
collaboration with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American
Dental Association. The meeting was coordinated by the National Maternal and Child Oral
Health Resource Center and was held on October 18, 2011, in Washington, DC. During the
meeting, participants reviewed policies from federal agencies and national organizations, recent
literature, and existing guidelines on oral health care during pregnancy. The outcome of the
meeting resulted in the national consensus statement.
National Consensus Statement
The purpose of the consensus statement is to help health professionals, program administrators
and staff, policymakers, advocates, and other stakeholders respond to the need for improvements
in the provision of oral health services to women during pregnancy, bring about changes in the
health-care-delivery system, and improve the overall standard of care.

The consensus statement includes guidance for prenatal care health professionals and for oral
health professionals. Health professionals can help ensure that pregnant women receive highquality oral health care by assessing pregnant womens oral health status and advising the
women about oral health care, working in collaboration with health professionals, providing
support services (case management) to pregnant women, and improving health services in the
community. For oral health professionals, the consensus statement also includes information
about oral disease management and treatment.
The consensus statement also offers an overview of pharmacological agents, such as analgesics,
antibiotics, anesthetics, and over-the-counter antimicrobials, that may be used during pregnancy.
The consensus statement concludes with tips for good oral health care for pregnant women,
which include getting oral health care, practicing good oral hygiene, eating healthy foods,
practicing other healthy behaviors, and taking care of the mouth and the babys mouth after the
baby is born.
The consensus statement is a critical resource that will increase health professionals awareness
of the importance and safety of womens oral health care during pregnancy through the
promotion of evidence-based science. It is available online, along with outreach tools, at
http://www.mchoralhealth.org/materials/consensus_statement.html.