Dental Care During Pregnancy

Author: Shannon Tedder

During pregnancy women are at a higher risk of developing periodontal disease. Periodontal disease affects the gums and it can be associated with low birth weight and/or preterm birth. The National Institute for Health Care Management reports that, “pre-term birth rate was 42% higher for babies birthed by women who did not receive dental care during pregnancy and low birth weight was 33% higher.”

It is recommended that pregnant women receive a routine dental examination because the mouth is affected by hormonal changes. According to research, women can visit the dentist at any time during pregnancy. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reports, “it is recommended that OB/Gyns (Obstetricians/Gynecologists) make an oral health inquiry during the first prenatal visit.” Research published by the American Dental Association (ADA) states that, “poor habits during pregnancy have been associated with premature delivery, intrauterine growth restriction, gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia.”

Some pregnant women can develop gum disease causing swelling, tenderness, and bleeding to the gum area. Research has suggested that bacteria causes inflammation in the gums and can get into the bloodstream targeting the fetus, possibly leading to premature or low- birth weight babies. Overall, scheduling routine dental visits will benefit both mother and baby.

Women should not be afraid to receive routine oral exams during pregnancy. If an x-ray is needed during the visit, dental staff will take caution to protect the mother and the baby. Dental staff will place a lead blanket on the mother and the baby to protect from any radiation. They will also treat any infections and dental pain. If major treatment is needed, the dental staff will discuss other options or postpone the procedure until after birth if necessary. Detecting early signs of oral issues by making routine visits to a dentist can play a major role in a mother’s overall health before and after giving birth.

Action steps:

  • Please share this information with expecting mothers.
  • Encourage pregnant women to schedule an oral examination as soon as possible.
  • Please share that pregnant women who are eligible for GA Medicaid are covered to receive dental care.
  • To locate other programs and information on GA Medicaid for children and pregnant women please visit:
  • To locate a dentist in your area or find a referral for your client, please use HMHB online public portal: or call us at 1-800-300-9003.


  1. Gaszyńska, E., Klepacz-Szewczyk, J., Trafalska, E., Garus-Pakowska, A., & Szatko, F. (2015, April 17). Dental awareness and oral health of pregnant women in Poland. Retrieved September 29, 2017, from,2159,0,2.html
  2. HMHBGA » HMHB Presentations. Titshaw, T. (2016), Oral Hygiene, Pregnancy, Birth Outcomes & the First Year. Retrieved September 29, 2017, from:
  3. The American Dental Association, Is It Safe To Go To the Dentist During Pregnancy? (n.d.). Retrieved September 29, 2017, from
  4. Women’s Health Care Physicians. (n.d.). Retrieved September 29, 2017, from

For additional information on this topic please review the HMHB 2016 State of the State Maternal & Infant Health in Georgia report.