Number of Pregnant Women in U.S. Getting Dental Care on the Rise 

Trip to the Dentist Key to Spotting, Preventing Oral Health Issues During Pregnancy   

GLENDALE, Ariz. (May 18, 2016) - More pregnant women in the United States are paying attention to an often overlooked area—their oral health. According to new survey data1 from Delta Dental of Arizona, the number of pregnant women going to the dentist increased nearly seven percent in the last year. The data is being released in conjunction with Pregnancy Awareness Month, which is celebrated in May. 

“Having a healthy mouth is always important, but pregnancy can actually intensify dental disease. Minor dental problems you had before becoming pregnant can worsen and changing hormones can increase your risk of certain other oral health issues,” said Tiffany Di Giacinto, director of marketing and communications for Delta Dental of Arizona. “New research even suggests a possible link between a mother’s gum disease and pre-term, low-birthweight babies, so staying on top of your oral health during pregnancy is crucial.”

In 2015, 57.5 percent of mothers in the United States reported they visited the dentist during their pregnancy, according to the Delta Dental survey. The 2016 survey results show that number has now increased to 63 percent.

Common Oral Health Issues During Pregnancy
Two of the top issues appearing specifically during pregnancy:

  • “Pregnancy gingivitis” (increased bleeding and tenderness of the gums) may affect women during pregnancy due to increased hormones. Great oral hygiene helps prevent this from occurring. To help prevent a build-up of plaque, brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and floss at least daily, paying special attention to cleaning along and just below the gum line.
  • “Pregnancy tumors” are somewhat rare, red growths of gum tissue that can form on the gums between the teeth as a result of excess plaque, usually during the second trimester of pregnancy. Although they may bleed when irritated, these are benign and harmless, and usually subside on their own after the baby is born. 

It’s perfectly safe for women to receive routine or emergency dental care during pregnancy. In fact, it’s encouraged, said Di Giacinto. 

“You have so much to think about during pregnancy that it may be easy to overlook your mouth, but pregnancy can actually make some dental problems worse. It’s important to continue to see your dentist during pregnancy for checkups and cleanings, along with brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and cleaning between your teeth once a day,” she said.

Delta Dental of Arizona also offers the following three tips for scheduling dental appointments while pregnant:

  1. Try to schedule a dental checkup within the first trimester to assess your oral health and determine whether you need a cleaning.
  2. If you need cavities filled or other necessary procedures, the second trimester is the best time. Elective procedures like tooth whitening or other cosmetic work should be delayed until after the baby is delivered.
  3. If a dental emergency arises, be sure to let your dentist know that you are pregnant. He or she will know what precautions need to be taken to resolve your dental problem. 

Oral Health Resources for Low-income or At-risk Pregnant Women
Locally there are many resources for low-income or at-risk pregnant women to receive dental care, several of which are supported by grants from the Delta Dental of Arizona Foundation:

  • Mountain Park Community Health Center ensures their obstetrics department refers pregnant women into their dental clinic for both preventive and restorative dental care.
  • Maggie’s Place offers housing, medical, dental and nutrition services for pregnant homeless women.
  • Marana Healthcare’s dental clinic provides free cleanings and X-rays to pregnant women in their second and third trimesters who are using the health center’s obstetrician services or Womens, Infants and Children (WIC) Programs.

“Medicaid-eligible mothers don’t have coverage for dental services in Arizona, so we are concerned these moms will suffer without dental care because of these barriers. Funding programs like Maggie’s Place helps those mothers understand the importance of a healthy mouth during pregnancy and gets them into care,” said Sandi Perez, PhD, vice president of community benefit and executive director of the Delta Dental of Arizona Foundation.

For more information on caring for your oral health during pregnancy, visit the Delta Dental of Arizona Blog.

About Delta Dental of Arizona

Delta Dental of Arizona is the leading dental benefits provider in Arizona, serving more than 917,000 enrollees and more than 3,200 contracted dentists across the state. Passionate about oral health and its importance to generations of families, Delta Dental of Arizona has worked for more than 40 years to improve oral health by emphasizing preventive care and making dental coverage accessible to a wide variety of employers, groups and individuals. For more information about Delta Dental of Arizona, visit

1 The Children's Oral Health Survey was conducted by Kelton Global on behalf of the Delta Dental Plans Association between December 16, 2015 and January 14, 2016 among a nationally representative sample of 1,307 parents of children ages 6-12. The margin of error is +/- 2.7 percent.