The physiologic changes that occur during pregnancy can increase risk of maternal periodontal disease. This is more often observed in women seeking prenatal care in community health centers. Poor oral health in pregnancy can negatively impact birth outcomes and the oral health of children born to mothers with a history of perinatal periodontal disease. Despite the evidence of importance and safety, oral health continues to be overlooked during prenatal care visits. There is a lack of interprofessional collaboration between prenatal and dental providers leading to missed opportunities and preventable adverse maternal and fetal health outcomes. Several professional organizations have affirmed that dental care and treatment during pregnancy is safe and recommended to prevent complications during and after pregnancy. In previous studies, barriers preventing pregnant women from receiving oral health exams, oral health education, and referrals include lack of provider awareness regarding the importance of oral health, lack of dental coverage for pregnant women, and reluctance among dental providers to treat women during pregnancy. The Maternal Oral Health Screening (MOS) tool has been used successfully to increase oral health screening in early pregnancy. The MOS was installed in a prenatal care intake form in an electronic health record at a federally qualified health center (FQHC). An education program about oral health care recommendations and safety of oral health care in pregnancy was presented to prenatal care staff. The intervention resulted in increased oral health screening and referral for dental care for pregnant people enrolled at the FQHC.
- Improving the Delivery of Oral Health Care in Pregnancy