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New HRSA resources focus on oral health during pregnancy

ADA part of collaborative effort to offer guidance to health professionals and pregnant women

When is the best time for an expectant mother to receive preventive, diagnostic and restorative dental care?

The correct answer is any time; according to a consensus statement released Sept. 11.

The new consensus statement on the safety and importance of oral health care and education for pregnant women is a summary of an expert workgroup meeting convened last year by the Health Resources and Services Administration in collaboration with the ADA and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. 

Oral Health Care During Pregnancy: A National Consensus Statement—Summary of an Expert Workgroup Meeting, summarizes guidance gathered at the Oct. 18, 2011 meeting.

“This consensus statement lets everyone know that dental care is safe and important throughout pregnancy,” said Dr. Rocky Napier, a pediatric dentist in Aiken, S.C. Dr. Napier was an expert participant for the workgroup meeting and is a member of the ADA Council on Access, Prevention and Interprofessional Relations. “The document is very concise, but it is filled with a lot of good information for health care professionals in all fields as well as for dental professionals and for pregnant women. And it contains some useful tip sheets, including a one-page summary of pharmacological considerations for pregnant women and a two-page guide that health professionals can give to pregnant women with information on how to maintain their oral health and how to take care of the new baby’s oral health as well.” 

The 24-page document can be viewed or downloaded in PDF format at www.mchoralhealth.org/materials/consensus_statement.html. The website also offers some additional promotional tools—an announcement, a handout for pregnant women, talking points, a presentation, cover image and web badges—for professionals working in states and communities planning, developing and implementing perinatal oral health programs. 

Dr. Napier was one of 29 expert panelists from a wide cross-section of national health organizations who contributed to the consensus statement.

“I’m really excited about this document,” Dr. Napier added. “It was amazing to sit down with this diverse group and learn how close we were on all of the issues. Getting expectant mothers off to a good start with their oral health is a critical part of helping them give their babies a good start with their oral health. We hope that getting everyone involved together on the same page—from expectant mothers to dentists, physicians and other health professionals—will make a big difference in communities nationwide.”

The OHRC also released another resource, Improving the Oral Health of Pregnant Women and Young Children: Opportunities for Policymakers. This issue brief, developed by the National Maternal and Child Oral Health Policy Center in collaboration with the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs, Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors, March of Dimes, and the Washington Dental Service Foundation, explores the evidence base for perinatal oral health care, the use of oral health care services, liability and policy options for improving access to and coverage of oral heath services. The brief is available at http://nmcohpc.net/2012/improving-oral-health-pregnant-women.

The resources were developed with support from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, HRSA.