More Pregnant Women Seeing Dentist, Survey Finds

Health experts have long urged pregnant women to see a dentist as part of their routine care plan. A new survey suggests the message is beginning to hit home.

More expectant mothers are seeing a dentist during their pregnancy, according to a new survey from Delta Dental Plans Association.

Delta Dental found 63% of pregnant women saw a dentist this year, up from 57.5% last year.

“This is positive news, and we’re glad expectant mothers are increasingly visiting the dentist,” said Bill Kohn, DDS, the association’s vice president of dental science and policy, in a press release. “Oral health issues have a heightened risk of occurring during pregnancy, so being aware and on top of these is crucial.”

The survey coincides with “Pregnancy Awareness Month,” which occurs each May in the United States.

Delta Dental says the best time for pregnant women to receive dental care is during the second trimester. They encourage patients to avoid routine dental care in the first trimester or the latter part of the third trimester.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, encourages its members to perform a routine oral health screening at a patient’s first prenatal visit, and also urge patients to see their dentist.

The ACOG issued guidelines in 2013 affirming the safety of teeth cleanings and dental x-rays during pregnancy. Diana Cheng, MD, who chaired the ACOG committee that issued the recommendations, said at the time that OB-GYNs have an important role to play in communicating with their patients about dental care.

“We can all reassure our patients that routine teeth cleanings, dental X-rays, and local anesthesia are safe during pregnancy,” Cheng said, in a press release. “Pregnancy is not a reason to delay root canals or filling cavities if they are needed because putting off treatment may lead to further complications.”

However, Kohn said pregnant women should wait until after their baby’s birth to have elective procedures, such as tooth whitening.

Kohn said he hopes the survey will help get out the message that a dentist’s appointment should be a routine part of pregnancy.

“This is an exciting time during the lives of expectant mothers, and we’re reminding them that making a routine trip to the dentist is one step that shouldn’t be skipped,” he said.