NCDHHS and Partners Release New Oral Health Practice Guidance for Clinicians Caring for Pregnant Women


North Carolina health leaders are promoting new oral health guidance to advance maternal and infant health. In 2016, the Division of Public Health, focusing on better birth outcomes and the reduction of infant mortality, convened the NC Perinatal Oral Health Task Force, which includes representatives from public health and state-funded medical and dental training institutions.
The goal of the Perinatal Oral Health Task Force is to create a comprehensive perinatal oral health initiative for the state, and the Oral Health During Pregnancy: North Carolina Collaborative Practice Framework is one product of its ongoing efforts.
"By adopting this oral health framework, North Carolina provides a central reference point for health care providers and highlights the important relationship between oral health, healthy pregnancies and overall health," said Sarah Tomlinson, DDS, State Dental Director and Oral Health Section Chief in the Division of Public Health. "This guidance promotes oral health discussions between providers and patients and moves providers toward the incorporation of oral health into prenatal care."
The new guidance promotes collaboration between medical and dental professionals who care for pregnant women and lists six measures to ensure women achieve optimal oral health during pregnancy:

  1. Assess pregnant women’s oral health status
  2. Advise pregnant women about oral health care
  3. Work in collaboration with prenatal and oral health professionals
  4. Provide oral disease management and dental treatment (for dental professionals)
  5. Provide support services and case management such as connecting patients to community resources
  6. Improve health services in the community by establishing partnerships with local programs that serve pregnant women

The Oral Health During Pregnancy: North Carolina Collaborative Practice Framework is a component of an overarching strategy to improve the health and quality of life for mothers and young children.

DHHS has several other initiatives underway to improve birth outcomes and decrease health disparities which include the N.C. Perinatal Health Strategic Plan, the Early Childhood Action Plan and the North Carolina Health Equity Report.

Health care providers with questions may contact Barbara Smith, MS, RDH, Perinatal Oral Health Coordinator in the Division of Public Health, at or visit

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