Oral health during pregnancy

UMMS Affiliation

University of Massachusetts Medical School and Family Medicine Residency Program; Department of Family Medicine and Community Health

Publication Date


Document Type



Dental Caries; Female; Gingivitis; Granuloma, Pyogenic; Humans; Infant, Newborn; Mouth Diseases; *Oral Health; Periodontitis; Pregnancy; Pregnancy Complications; Pregnancy Outcome; Prenatal Care; Tooth Mobility


Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences


Oral health care in pregnancy is often avoided and misunderstood by physicians, dentists, and patients. Evidence-based practice guidelines are still being developed. Research suggests that some prenatal oral conditions may have adverse consequences for the child. Periodontitis is associated with preterm birth and low birth weight, and high levels of cariogenic bacteria in mothers can lead to increased dental caries in the infant. Other oral lesions, such as gingivitis and pregnancy tumors, are benign and require only reassurance and monitoring. Every pregnant woman should be screened for oral risks, counseled on proper oral hygiene, and referred for dental treatment when necessary. Dental procedures such as diagnostic radiography, periodontal treatment, restorations, and extractions are safe and are best performed during the second trimester. Xylitol and chlorhexidine may be used as adjuvant therapy for high-risk mothers in the early postpartum period to reduce transmission of cariogenic bacteria to their infants. Appropriate dental care and prevention during pregnancy may reduce poor prenatal outcomes and decrease infant caries.


Am Fam Physician. 2008 Apr 15;77(8):1139-44.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

American family physician

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID