Obstetricians report that about 40 percent of pregnant women have oral health problems and would benefit from prenatal dental care. Yet, roughly one in four women don’t receive dental care while pregnant. Why not?  

Finding a solution

First, many don’t seek dental care—mistakenly believing that it’s unsafe. Some dentists make that same mistake. In fact, three-quarters of the nation’s obstetricians say that their pregnant patients were denied dental services. Patients and providers must catch up with the science.

In 2011, the American Dental Association joined other organizations in affirming that “preventive, diagnostic and restorative care” is safe throughout pregnancy.

"Once a woman finds care, it needs to be affordable and accessible. Too often, low-income women, who suffer most from untreated oral disease, are not provided dental coverage through Medicaid."

Health advocates

Doctors can be important advocates for the importance of women’s oral health. Last year, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advised physicians that “women should routinely be counseled about the maintenance of good oral health as well as the safety and importance of oral health care during pregnancy.”

States can show leadership too. New York and California were the first to release guidelines that promote dental care for pregnant women.

Once a woman finds care, it needs to be affordable and accessible. Too often, low-income women, who suffer most from untreated oral disease, are not provided dental coverage through Medicaid. That is a barrier to a healthy pregnancy. We need to get the message out: in pregnancy and beyond, oral health matters.