Women can anticipate significant changes to their body during pregnancy. But did you know that pregnancy can affect oral health, and that infections in the mouth can impact pregnancy?
A growing body of research has found a connection between pregnancy and poor oral health. That is why doctors, dentists, physician assistants, nurses and hygienists urge expectant mothers to visit their dentist at least once during pregnancy, and to seek treatment if they have gum disease.
Increased hormones during pregnancy can affect a woman’s response to cavity-causing germs and gingivitis. While at the same time, studies have found that pregnant women with gum disease experienced a higher rate of prenatal complications, including pre-term labor, low-birth weight and gestational diabetes.
Recognizing that access to preventive care and early dental treatment can improve health outcomes and lower annual medical costs, the Washington State Legislature is currently considering SB 5540, which would allow the Health Care Authority to conduct a three-year pilot program that would expand dental care access for low-income pregnant women.
Lawmakers hope that targeted dental care investments will lead to better health for mother and infant, while potentially saving the state money.
And good oral health benefits mother and child long after birth.
Babies are born free of the cavity-causing bacteria called Streptococcus mutans. But the bacteria can pass from mom to baby through the transfer of saliva, such as sucking pacifiers clean, blowing on food, sharing utensils and even kissing. If left untreated, the bacteria could remain in the child’s mouth for years, impacting primary and permanent teeth.
That is why health professionals and children’s advocates also support SB 5540. Early access to dental care can lead to better long-term health for pregnant women and their children.
Please urge your representative to support smart investments in dental care access by clicking here.
And click here to learn more about SB 5540.