Improving Oral Health in Pregnancy
Maintaining good oral health during pregnancy is a significant contributor to healthy pregnancy outcomes. The physiological changes that happen during pregnancy can adversely affect women’s oral health and place her at risk for pregnancy outcomes such as miscarriage and preeclampsia. The unborn child’s health can also be affected by premature birth and low birth weight. Although professional organizations have evidence-based practice guidelines for both prenatal and dental providers, the evidence shows a gap between recommendations and practice. An oral health promotion project for pregnant women was implemented in a federally qualified community health center where there was a lack of adherence to the guidelines.
The purpose of this project was to implement established oral health screening guidelines for pregnant women and to increase dental visits among pregnant women. For this project, a two-item maternal oral health-screening tool (MOS) for the prenatal providers was added into the electronic health record to standardize and document oral health screening for pregnant women at their first prenatal visit. After three months of implementation, there was a significant increase in maternal oral health screening and referral. This project may be replicated at any prenatal setting to improve oral health during pregnancy.