because the links between oral and systemic health begin in the womb

The effects of the mother’s oral health on the unborn child and on growth

Data on the connection between a mother’s oral health to her unborn child continues to emerge, with more recent meta-analyzes stating adverse birth outcomes for both mother and baby in the presence of untreated gum disease. Preeclampsia, preterm birth, and low birth weight are among the most serious outcomes. Put simply, the poor health of a mother’s oral cavity affects the overall health of the mother and, therefore, that of the baby.1 Here are two examples:

Gingivitis is inflammation of the gum or gums and is common among pregnant women. It can be easily prevented. Porphyromonas gingivalisa bacterium associated with periodontal disease and other bacteria present in the subgingival plaque of pregnant women, was found to be more abundant in women with preterm birth, for example, than in women with short-term births.1 More than two thirds of pregnant women suffer from gingivitis during pregnancy.2

Additionally, pregnant women may be more susceptible to tooth decay due to hormonal changes and changes in eating habits. They can then pass on a large number of cavity-causing bacteria in their mouth to their children’s mouth. Mothers with high levels of untreated tooth decay are three times more likely to have children with tooth decay than mothers with good oral health.2

Also, professional medical organizations recommend oral hygiene during pregnancy; for example, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends oral hygiene during pregnancy for the benefit of both the mother and the unborn child.3 This was stated in 2019, following its original guidance in 2011.

Additionally, since 2000, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guide suggests that babies receive an oral exam by 6 months of age. Since there aren’t enough oral health professionals to provide care for young children, pediatricians and pediatric nurses are filling this void.4 So how can we fill this gap? One word: teleodontology.

Tele dentistry can connect families to a dental home

Teleodontology, like telemedicine, is now available to ensure that more children can easily access oral care from pediatricians and ensure connection with oral health professionals and a dental home. With teleodontology, mothers and children can access treatment with a dentist, with the mother holding the baby in her lap without downtime for transport or additional permits from work and without the risk of contagion of the latest COVID-19 variant. They may have face-to-face contact with a dentist to meet their needs.

The AAP recommends that providers perform oral health risk assessments at all 6-, 9-, and 12-month visits.4 These can be conducted with teleodontology or when providing routine infant vaccinations during child checkups.5.6

There is no question that oral health affects the overall quality of life. A healthy, disease-free mouth ensures the ability to swallow, smile, eat and feel safe, and improves basic quality of life issues. Also, like a healthy body, oral disease prevention begins in antenatal care and is especially important in early pediatric care.

Furthermore, studies have found that parents are mostly unable to accurately detect oral health problems in their children because they perceive it primarily on the basis of assumptions. Therefore, teleodontology consultations are critical in detecting and treating problems before they develop into severity.7

Tele-dentistry connects pregnant and newborn patients to pediatricians and pediatricians to oral health professionals

While some areas may lack oral health professionals to treat infants and young children, teleodontology can easily link oral health professionals and the regional pediatric practice program. According to a recent report, oral health should be integrated into primary care.8 Indeed, teleodontology is the only proven technology capable of bridging the gap in prenatal and pediatric care.

Tele-dentistry visits can take place concurrently while the patient is attending another healthcare provider or, if necessary, be pre-registered for later viewing. Teleodontology can also link pediatric patients to a dental clinic by the age of 1 year, as recommended by the AAP.

Here are some guidelines for standard tele-dentistry virtual consultation, with the mother holding a baby in her lap:

Medical history: including any history of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, hypertension in pregnancy, preterm labor and any other problems.

Main complaint, if any.

Oral health risk assessment.4

Summary of oral health findings from observation.

Additional Information: Including any relevant information from OBGYN, oral professionals or another healthcare professional.

Evaluation of oral results and any impact on function such as nutrition, speech, expressions or other difficulties.

Summary of recommended treatment and / or prevention: for example, fluoride paint, do not put the baby to bed with formula milk, avoid high-sugar drinks and other recommendations.

Summary of treatment

Next visit recommended (time period).

Because the dental hygienist is an essential part of the multidisciplinary connection

Oral health integration efforts highlight the value of comprehensive care, connecting medical professionals and dentists. Training programs, such as Smiles for Life, can provide some basic information, in addition to the aforementioned AAP resources.8.9

For example, dental hygienists play a vital role in promoting change in pediatric patients by acting as coaches who can touch nutrition, encourage good oral hygiene habits, and intervene to correct any bad habits that will lead to an increase in oral and systemic diseases. . It has been shown that tremendous success in caries prevention among school children occurs when dental hygienists provide the necessary care in school oral health programs in low-income neighborhoods.10

Dental hygienists can play a crucial role in influencing oral health change by training patients, offering positive reinforcement, and supporting parents in guiding their children to continue best practices at home.11

The impact of teleodontology: better results for mother and child

Thanks to teleodontology, dentists and hygienists can serve as easily accessible consultants for expectant mothers and their medical service providers to ensure optimal prenatal oral care.

In our view, the implementation of teleodontology as part of a pediatric oral health risk assessment protocol can help significantly reduce the presence of premature and low birth weight infants and improve the overall health of the mother and baby.12.13

Margaret Scarlett, DDS – A dental futurist, Dr. Scarlett is a practicing dentist, author and consultant for today’s digital dentistry innovators. After a long career with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Scarlett is now assisting today’s dental groups and private practices to embrace the digital transformation of dentistry while helping innovative dental technology companies. to introduce their transformative solutions for DSOs and private studios. She can be contacted at [email protected]

Michelle Strange, MSDH, RDH – Michelle is a practicing hygienist with over two decades of experience in dentistry, started as a dental assistant and completed a bachelor’s degree in health sciences from the Medical University of South Carolina and a master’s degree in dental hygiene education from the University by Bridgeport. She continues to invest in continuing education, earning important certifications such as her dental infection prevention and control certificate. Her community and her global efforts demonstrate her passion for dentistry, from volunteering as a dental hygienist to her missions around the world. She can be contacted at [email protected]


Today’s emphasis on well-being extends throughout our life. Recent research indicates that oral health is vital to overall health and well-being. This is especially important when it comes to prenatal care.

For example, pregnant women with undiagnosed and untreated periodontal disease are more likely to have preterm and low birth weight babies, leading to many other complications and conditions, such as delayed development and growth retardation.


1. Jang H, Patoine A, Wu TT, Castillo DA, Xiao J. Oral microflora and pregnancy: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Rep. Sci. 2021: 19; 11 (1): 16870. doi: 10.1038 / s41598-021-96495-1

2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pregnancy and oral health. Accessed July 7, 2022.

3. Oral hygiene during pregnancy and throughout life. American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Oral Health Committee. Accessed July 5, 2022.

4. Risk assessment tool. American Academy of Pediatrics. Accessed July 7, 2022.

5. Oral health practice tools for practitioners. American Academy of Pediatrics. Accessed July 5, 2022.

6. Payment of preventive health services. American Academy of Pediatrics. Accessed July 7, 2022.

7. Reissmann DR, John MT, Sagheri D, Sierwald I. Diagnostic accuracy of parental assessments of their child’s oral health-related quality of life. What life res. 2017. 26 (4): 881-891. doi: 10.1007 / s11136-016-1427-y.

8. Innovations in oral health and integration of primary care: alignment with shared principles of primary care. The Collaborative for primary care. 2021. Accessed July 27, 2022.

9. National Oral Health Curriculum: Smiles for Life. Group of the Society of Family Medicine Teachers on Oral Health. Accessed July 27, 2022.

10. Simmer-Beck M, Wellever A, Kelly P. Using registered dental hygienists to promote an educational approach to dental public health. Am J Public Health. 2017: 107 (S1): S56-S60. doi: 10.2105 / AJPH.2017.303662

11. Why be a dental hygienist? American Association of Dental Education. Accessed July 27, 2022.

12. Corbella S, et al. Adverse pregnancy outcomes and periodontitis: a systematic review and meta-analysis exploring potential associations. Quintessence Int.2016; 47: 193–204. doi: 10.3290 / j.qi.a3498

13. Daalderop L, et al. Periodontal Disease and Pregnancy Outcomes: Overview of Systematic Reviews. JDR Clin. trad. Competition. 2018; 3: 10–27. doi: 10.1177 / 2380084417731097.

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