To bring clarity to the topic of whether dental treatment is safe during pregnancy for both mother and child, the Foundation created the Perinatal Oral Health Program. The resulting guidelines and educational resources give caregivers the confidence of best practices based on science.
According to California’s Maternal and Infant Health Assessment (MIHA) 2007 study, only 34 percent of women visited a dentist or dental clinic during pregnancy. Studies also show that in maternal-child transmission of caries-causing bacteria, the earlier the bacteria passes, the higher the rate of tooth decay in the child.
In February 2009, the Foundation collaborated with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, District IX, to develop “Oral Health During Pregnancy and Early Childhood: Evidence-Based Guidelines for Health Professionals.” An expert panel, comprised of state and national medical, dental and public health experts, concluded that prevention, diagnosis and treatment of oral diseases, including dental X-rays and the use of local anesthesia, are highly beneficial and can be undertaken during pregnancy with no additional fetal or maternal risk.
After publishing the guidelines, the CDA Foundation created the Cavity Keep Away campaign to educate patients. Targeted at a low-literacy population, the brochure illustrates proven practices to help parents keep their child’s teeth sound, from the womb to one year. Tips include:
- Get a dental checkup before baby is born to address any issues regarding cavities
- Do not share utensils with children
- Give everyone in the family their own toothbrush
- Wash pacifiers with soap and water only
- Wipe baby’s gums before bed
- Feed baby a healthy diet
It’s all in the hope that prenatal care providers integrate oral health into the care of their pregnant patients so that mother and baby can lead healthy lives.