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UNC begins clinic rotations for pregnant patients

Chapel Hill, N.C.—Fourth-year dental students in clinical rotations at the University of North Carolina have gotten some new patients: pregnant women.

"Pregnant patients require certain methodology for comfort and safety during dental appointments, but most dental students don't ever get exposure to them," said Dr. Rocio Quinonez, associate professor in the Schools of Dentistry and Medicine, Departments of Pediatric Dentistry and Pediatrics.

It's part of the school's Prenatal Oral Health Program co-developed by Dr. Quinonez and Kim Boggess, M.D., professor in the UNC School of Medicine Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation provided a grant for the program, which will educate all prenatal health care providers and expectant women on how oral health affects a woman's overall health and how that can help set optimal oral health practices for children.

"This program is really needed in our community and helps us redefine the clinical experience for the fourth-year students by having them involved in an integrated health care project with the OB-GYN medical students," said Dr. Scott Eidson, UNC clinic director.

"By adding this rotation to our general dentistry clinic experience, we are training our new graduates to spread the word that pregnant women can be safely treated during pregnancy while serving a population in great need of care," he said.

A Prenatal Oral Health Program kit is being developed as an educational aid for providers and patients.

"Many women don't know the impact of their own oral health on the oral health of their children," said Dr. Boggess. "That's something that expectant mothers—and their care providers—need to know."