The purpose of this article is to review the current literature on the association between maternal periodontal disease and poor pregnancy and neonatal outcomes and outline the role nurses can play in improving the oral health of pregnant women. Maternal periodontal disease is linked to preterm birth, low birthweight, and preterm low birthweight, but treatment of periodontal disease during pregnancy has been shown to be safe and effective. Nurses, nurse practitioners, and nurse-midwives are in a position to educate pregnant women on the benefits of good oral health and identify and refer women who are in need of dental care for treatment.
Some studies have suggested periodontitis as a precursor to preterm labor and birth. These dentist and nurse collaborators have examined the relevant literature and made recommendations for appropriate nursing care.
Ananda P. Dasanayake is a Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Health Promotion, and Director, Graduate Program in Clinical Research, New York University College of Dentistry, New York, NY. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Susan Gennaro is the Florence and William Downs Professor in Nursing Research at New York University College of Nursing, New York, NY.
Karen D. Hendricks-Muñoz is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, and Director, Division of Neonatology, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY.
Nok Chhun is a Junior Research Scientist, Department of Epidemiology and Health Promotion, New York University College of Dentistry, New York, NY.
The authors have no conflicts of interest.