If Pregnant, Don’t Delay Dental Care

Outdated beliefs by dentists often keep pregnant women from receiving dental care. A nationwide survey of more than 350 obstetricians/gynecologists (OB/GYNs) conducted in 2009 found that 77% of the doctors said that their patients had been denied dental services because they were pregnant.

Particularly with gum inflammation (gingivitis), which affects 60%-75%  of pregnant women, untreated disease can lead to tooth extractions or infections that can spread to the jaw or invade the body. It the infection enters the bloodstream, the health of the fetus may be impacted.

Although in recent years some state dental associations and organizations have issued new practice guidelines stating that dental care, including X-rays, cavity restorations and root canals are safe, many dentists refuse or are reluctant to treat pregnant women fearing harm to the fetus or law suits.  Lack of awareness on the part of OB/GYNs is also contributing to the problem, according to Nancy Newhouse, DDS, President of the American Academy of Periodontology. Some OB/GYNs don’t include oral health assessment and dental referrals in their routine exams.