Among the new national guidelines for providers released this week by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is a new emphasis on making sure pregnant women get dental care.
That's something policymakers in California have been working on for years, and is a welcome addition to national guidelines, according to officials at the Children's Dental Health Project, a nonprofit children's health advocacy organization.
"Years ago, concerns about the health of pregnant women led the California Department of Public Health, the Packard Foundation and other stakeholders to launch a perinatal initiative," said Matt Jacob of the CDHP. "New recommendations … underscore the need for pregnant women to secure dental care and clarify that receiving this care during pregnancy is safe and important."
One out of four women in California does not receive dental care during pregnancy. Dental care during that time can prevent long-term health problems among children, according to CDHP statistics.
According to ACOG officials, women with poor dental health might have higher levels of Streptococcus mutans bacteria that causes tooth decay.
The new recommendations, issued July 31, also urge all physicians to discuss oral health with pregnant women.