By: 30 August 2019
How nurses and midwives can help women who are trying to conceive have better dental health

Dr Amanda Tavoularis, of, explains why a healthy mouth is vital to a successful pregnancy

When couples decide to begin trying to conceive, many choose to start working with midwives and nurses before they become pregnant. One thing that is often overlooked during this journey is a couple’s dental health, but it can play a big role in fertility. Nurses and midwives have a wonderful opportunity to support a couple through their conceiving journey and help them have better oral health.
I have been practicing dentistry for more than 20 years and have helped many couples with their dental health. A healthy mouth is vital to a successful pregnancy. That’s why I believe nurses and midwives should be educated about dental health as well in order to provide the best support possible for the couples that they work with.

Help couples understand that oral health can affect fertility

It’s important for nurses and midwives to know how dental health can affect a couple’s chances of becoming pregnant. If a woman or a man suffers from gum disease it can affect their fertility. In fact, it can take women seven months or longer to conceive if they have gum disease compared to five months for women who do not. Similarly, men with poor oral health are more likely to face male factor infertility due to the elevated levels of bacteria in their mouth.
Nurses and midwives should work towards having a deeper understanding of dental health and the role it plays in a couple’s family journey. That way they can help couples find the dental care they may need so they can have the healthiest mouth possible.

Educate women about how hormones change during pregnancy

Changing pregnancy hormones can affect a woman’s body greatly. Along with all the side effects a woman experiences during her pregnancy, her dental health can also be affected.
Pregnancy hormones make women more vulnerable to mouth bacteria and their chances of developing pregnancy tumours and pregnancy gingivitis are high. Untreated gingivitis can cause preterm birth and low birth weight, which is why it’s better to deal with these issues ahead of time.
Nurses and midwives should encourage families to continue a daily oral care routine to help prevent gingivitis before, during, and after pregnancy. A good routine should consist of brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and rinsing with an antimicrobial mouthwash. Also, nurses should urge expecting mothers to maintain a healthy diet for the sake of their dental health. It’s important to stay away from sugary drinks and snacks and focus on incorporating vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and dairy into their diet to help protect their teeth.

Encourage couples to visit the dentist before trying to conceive

One of the best ways nurses and midwives can help support couples who are trying to conceive, is by advising them to visit their dentist before they start their journey. It’s important that both mom and dad get a dental checkup to have a deep cleaning of their teeth and their gums examined to make sure neither parent has gum disease or may contract gum disease. They can also receive any necessary treatment as well if they do suffer from gingivitis or periodontitis.
Another important part of visiting the dentist before conceiving is that the couple can receive dental X-rays. These are routinely taken to make sure that the structure of your mouth is good, and that you don’t have any serious dental issues. Dentists can provide women with the necessary dental X-rays before they become pregnant instead of having to postpone them until after the baby is born. While the radiation exposure at the dental office is extremely low, it’s best to avoid unnecessary exposure for both mother and baby’s safety.
Nurses and midwives offer a great amount of support and knowledge for families who are trying to conceive. However, to best help couples’ nurses and midwives should work to have more comprehensive knowledge about how dental health can affect a couple’s fertility. Deciding to start or grow a family is a beautiful thing and having a nurse or midwife along the way is not only helpful but an important part of the journey. Healthcare professionals should embrace the opportunity to create special bonds with families as they prepare to bring a new life into the world.


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