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Supporting Mothers’ Health

The quality of a mother’s prenatal oral health has been shown to not only affect fetal growth and development, but also her child’s health through infancy, childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. This mother-infant relationship is complex and dynamic, involving not only genetics and biology but also environmental and social factors. Studies demonstrate that health is determined by the interaction between microbial species within the human body. Microbiomes between a mother and infant are showing associative long-term impacts on the infant’s growth and developing health later in life. As this link between maternal and infant oral health evolves, dental hygiene knowledge and practice must also progress to reflect these new developments.


Just as systemic diseases, such as hypertension and diabetes mellitus, have been linked to adverse birth outcomes, oral diseases can impact pregnancy and fetal health.

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The risk of developing preeclampsia, a complication specific to pregnancy that can significantly compromise the health of a mother and fetus, has been shown to decrease in mothers with periodontal diseases.

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Prior to birth, the infant’s microbiomes are not typically colonized; however, as early as the first 24 hours after birth, the infant’s microbiomes show shared species with the mother, which continue to be influenced up to 4 months post-partum.

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Through understanding the development of the infant’s oral microbiome and its interrelated nature with the mother’s microbiomes, individuals at higher risk for disease can be identified early and more effective preventive and interventional treatments can be developed.

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Oral health care is unsafe during the perinatal period.

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Granuloma gravidarium is another possible pregnancy complication that presents in what percentage of pregnant women?

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If the mother experiences morning sickness, dental hygienists can instruct the mother to rinse with water following vomiting incidences and avoid brushing for at least an hour to allow the oral cavity pH level to neutralize.

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Supporting Mothers’ Health
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This information is from the article “The Importance of Maternal-Infant Oral Health” by Sarah Kay Youny Lee, DDS, MS, FACP, and Sarah B. Hoerler, RDH, MS. To read the article, click here.

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