Expecting mothers have much more on their minds during pregnancy than selecting nursery room colors or determining which edition of "What to Expect When You’re Expecting" to purchase. Health care providers are trained to provide moms-to-be with vital information on everything from maintaining a healthy diet and exercise to supporting positive mental health to identifying symptoms that could lead to complications. 

While it may not be the first thing that springs to many patients’ or physicians’ lips, growing research suggests that paying close attention to maternal oral health is critical. Kim Boggess, a professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, said prenatal counseling and care are essential for improving maternal oral health and reducing complications.

“Oral health is an important component to overall health, and maternal oral health predicts child oral health,” Boggess said. “Pregnancy is an opportune time to engage patients in oral health and prophylaxis due to frequent contact with medical system.”

The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine (VTCSOM) and Delta Dental of Virginia are proud to host the 12th annual Delta Dental of Virginia Oral Health Endowed Lecture at 7 p.m. Jan. 4. Boggess will present relevant research in her talk, “You Can Learn a Lot by Just Watching: Maternal Oral Disease and Pregnancy Outcome.” 

The lecture is free and open to the public, and will count for one Continuing Medical Education hour. The event will be hosted in person and online. Registration is required. 

Hormonal changes during pregnancy bring about significant physiological changes throughout the body. The oral cavity reflects many of these changes, which include exacerbation of periodontal disease, tooth decay, enamel erosion, loose teeth and oral dryness. Some evidence suggests a bi-directional relationship between maternal periodontitis and preterm deliveries, low birth weights and preeclampsia.

Boggess said, “The seriousness or impact of oral health issues is two-fold because you are dealing with two patients — the mother and the fetus/child and their oral health.”

VTCSOM is one of the few medical schools in the country that incorporates oral health into its curriculum. With support from Delta Dental of Virginia, the school provides clinical training, a dedicated elective on oral health, and lectures on general oral health, oral cancer, common pathologies, and oral manifestations of systemic disease.

“The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine has developed a robust oral health curriculum. The goal of the curriculum is to reattach the mouth to rest of the body,” said Charles “Bud” Conklin, retired dentist and associate professor of surgery who was instrumental in developing an oral health component to the school’s curriculum. “That bidirectional relationship between oral health and systemic disease is critical for physicians to grasp.” 

A reception will be held at 6 p.m. prior to the lecture. To learn more information, visit the event page


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