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The Role of the Midwife in Providing Oral Healthcare to Women in Pregnancy and Throughout the Lifespan

Oral disease remains a significant quality of life and economic burden in the United States even after almost twenty years have passed since the U.S. Surgeon General brought attention to this “silent epidemic” (Satcher & Nottingham, 2017). Oral health is linked to systemic health and is an indicator of a person’s overall well being. Failure to prevent or treat oral disease can lead to the progression of adverse health outcomes, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease (Qualis Health, 2015). Oral health care is especially important during pregnancy, as it has been associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes.

Both the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2013) and the American College of Nurse-Midwives (2015) have issued statements on the importance of oral health during pregnancy and throughout a woman’s lifespan and the need for women’s healthcare providers to integrate oral health risk assessment, screening, anticipatory guidance, preventive strategies, and referral into their practice. Both organizations stress the importance of collaborative practice between primary care and dentistry in reducing the prevalence and consequences of oral disease among women. Traditionally, oral health content has not been included in the education of primary care providers, including women’s healthcare providers; therefore, it not often included as a routine component of well-woman and prenatal care.  The purpose of this educational session is to teach midwives about the importance of oral health and their role in providing women with appropriate and timely preventative oral healthcare.

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