October 2015
Upcoming Webinar Series! 
Mark your calendars because it's time for the March of Dimes North Carolina Preconception Health Campaign Webinar SeriesParticipate in six free webinars from October to March, focusing on improving the health of women prior to pregnancy. Click here to register.

Did you miss one of our previous webinars? All of our archived webinars can be found on our website here.
Happy National Dental Hygiene Month!
Listen to an awareness-raising message from the American Dental Hygiene Association's President, Kelli Swanson Jaecks. Here she explains the importance of National Dental Hygiene Month and the work that dental hygienists do everyday.
Guidebook from Center for Oral Health!  
The Center for Oral Health has developed a guidebook for preventing dental diseases in children from low income families. This guidebook contains useful information for the establishment of a WIC-based pediatric dental program. The guide is free to browse and download.

Click here to view an infographic that highlights the importance of taking care of oral health.


The  Committee on Health Care for Underserved Women at the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists published a report that discusses oral health as an important component of general health, which should be maintained throughout a woman's lifespan.


The Office on Women's Health strives to improve the health and well-being for U.S. women and girls. Their website has an informative fact sheet on women's oral health and answers a list of FAQs regarding oral health for women.


Simple Steps Dental works with the University of Columbia School of Medicine to provide and review oral health information. They have provided a comprehensive guide that discusses how pregnancy affects oral health. The guide describes oral health concerns for pregnant women and answers common questions regarding dental visits and medications during pregnancy. 


The Health Resources and Services Administration at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides a list of clinical resources that support oral health for women and children. Their list includes maternal and child oral health grant programs and various trainings for health professionals.
Oral Health Watch, a website for current oral health issues, has published an article relating healthcare reform to oral health. The article addresses oral health provisions included in the Healthcare Reform Bill and their effects on oral health care access for low-income adults. 
Relevant Articles
 Women's Oral Health 
A woman's overall health is affected by her oral health. Good oral health may positively affect cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other chronic disorders. However, not all women visit an oral health professional. In 2007-2009, 35% of U.S. women reported they did not visit the dentist within the past year and 56% of women did not have a dental visit during pregnancy.
While everyone should care for their oral health, women may be particularly susceptible to oral health problems because of the unique hormonal changes they experience. As hormone levels change throughout a woman's life, certain stages can increase her oral health needs.
Menstruation and Oral Health
Due to the hormonal changes that occur during the menstrual cycle, some women experience oral changes that can include swollen, bleeding gums, development of canker sores, or swollen salivary glands. The increase in progesterone, in particular, can change how the gums respond to plaque on the teeth, ultimately making them more vulnerable to bacterial infections. Women who are prone to cold sores and canker sores may also develop a pattern where sores recur with every menstrual cycle.
Pregnancy and Oral Health
During pregnancy, a woman's body produces higher levels of estrogen and progesterone. Pregnancy gingivitis may occur because the increased levels of hormones have caused the gums to overreact to plaque on the teeth. The reaction results in swollen, tender, and red gums that bleed when brushing or flossing. Gingivitis is most likely to occur in the second trimester and peak in the middle of the third trimester. If gingivitis was present at the beginning of the pregnancy, it is likely that the condition will worsen as the pregnancy progresses.
In addition to the affects gingivitis has on a woman's mouth, this form of gum disease may also affect the health her baby. Excessive bacteria in plaque can enter the bloodstream through the gums and induce the production of prostaglandins in the uterus. The body may interpret this hormone-like chemical as a signal to proceed into labor, leading to premature birth of the baby.
Gingivitis could also make the gums more vulnerable to periodontal disease, an infection of the teeth, gums, and jawbone. If left untreated, periodontal disease may lead to tooth loss. Researchers have also discovered that active periodontal disease during pregnancy can increase the risk of pre-eclampsia, pregnancy-triggered high blood pressure that can harm the health of both the mother and the baby.
To prevent gingivitis and periodontal disease, floss daily and brush teeth using a soft-bristled toothbrush. It is important to keep a close eye on oral health and to visit the dentist during pregnancy.

Oral Contraceptives and Oral Health
Women who take certain birth control pills that contain progesterone may experience inflamed gum tissues, similar to that experienced during pregnancy. In addition to these gum tissue changes, women on birth control pills may be prone to problems with healing following a tooth extraction. This may lead to "dry socket," a painful condition that increases the possibility of inflammation of bone during the healing process. This condition can be avoided if the extraction appointment is scheduled during the non-estrogen days of the pill cycle.
Oral Health Resources
The National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center (OHRC) responds to the needs of communities in addressing current and emerging oral health issues. The OHRC supports health professionals, educators, program administrators, and others to improve oral health services. They have developed a resource guide with journal articles and materials addressing oral health care during pregnancy.
The National Institute for Health Care Management (NIHCM) provides professional guidelines and policy statements for perinatal oral health care. They also address strategies and considerations for health plans to expand access to perinatal health care services.
The Women's and Children's Health Policy Center at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health published a report focusing on the improvement of women's oral health. The document emphasizes the importance of oral health for women, examines the current oral health status of women in the United States, and addresses potential strategies to improve women's oral health in the U.S.
The Healthy Start Coalition of Hillsborough County in Tampa, Florida is highlighting Prematurity Awareness with a unique approach. The Coalition is emphasizing the connection between periodontitis and preterm labor risks with obstetricians by distributing toothbrushes and information cards to encourage good oral health care during pregnancy.

New Blog Post!   

Check out our new blog post by Anna Vasileva, Project Coordinator at the Oral Health Nursing Education and Practice Program. 


You can also read or listen to the personal story of Veronika Boyer, a woman who struggled to navigate the Medicaid system to access the dental care she needed. It highlights marginalized patients' multiple barriers to oral health care and the overwhelming need for patient navigators.

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