Oral diseases are prevalent conditions; dental caries is the most common chronic childhood disease, and adult periodontal infection affects up to 40% of reproductive-aged women. Childhood caries is a preventable infectious disease, and maternal oral flora is one of the greatest predictors of the oral flora of her offspring. Periodontal infection is also preventable and has received recent attention as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and respiratory infection. Periodontal infection has also been associated with adverse pregnancy outcome. Effective preventive and treatment measures to reduce the morbidity of oral diseases exist, yet both caries and periodontal infection remain prevalent, particularly among racial and ethnic minorities and disadvantaged individuals. Given the evident relationships between oral and general health and between maternal and infant oral health, oral health care should be a goal for all individuals. Pregnancy offers an opportunity to educate women regarding oral health and treat them where appropriate. Research is ongoing to delineate the role of maternal oral health care in pregnancy outcomes and opportunities for positive intervention.
Maternal oral health affects general health and has the potential to affect pregnancy outcome; general oral health promotion should be encouraged during pregnancy.
From the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Maternal–Fetal Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Corresponding author: Kim A. Boggess, MD, Associate Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Maternal–Fetal Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Campus Box 7570, 214 MacNider Building, Chapel Hill, NC 27599; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Financial Disclosure The author has no potential conflicts of interest to disclose.
Continuing medical education is available online at www.greenjournal.org