(HealthDay News) – The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that physicians discuss oral health with all patients, including those who are pregnant or postpartum, according to a Committee Opinion published in the August issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Noting that, in 2007–2009, 35% of U.S. women reported not having a dental visit within the past year, and 56% reported not visiting a dentist during pregnancy, the ACOG Committee on Health Care for Underserved Women and the Oral Health Care During Pregnancy Advisory Committee have provided recommendations for oral hygiene during pregnancy and the postpartum period.

The authors note that although there may be a positive correlation between periodontal infection and preterm birth, evidence has failed to show improvement in the outcomes after dental treatment during pregnancy. The committee recommends that an oral health assessment should be conducted during the first prenatal visit. Women should be advised that oral health care improves women’s general health and may reduce transmission of potentially caries-producing oral bacteria from mothers to infants. Patients should be reassured that prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of oral conditions are safe during pregnancy and that conditions requiring treatment can be managed at any time during pregnancy. Women should also be counseled about the maintenance of good oral health habits during pregnancy and throughout their lives.

“For many women, obstetrician-gynecologists are the most frequently accessed health care professional, which creates a unique opportunity to educate women throughout their lifespan, including during pregnancy, about the importance of dental care and good oral hygiene,” the authors write.

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