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Gov. Lee and dentists push for more dental coverage for pregnant women

Lee announced in his State of the State address he wanted to extend TennCare to cover pregnant women who need dental care.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Governor Bill Lee is proposing preventative dental services within TennCare, something health officials believe could really help pregnant women.

"This budget also proposes changed to our TennCare program," Lee said in his speech at the beginning of the month. "We're also expanding preventive dental services to mothers on TennCare."

Lee proposed extending TennCare to cover dental and oral health services for women with no existing benefits through 60 days post delivery, which dentist and mom Smita Barole said is important to consider.

"So there's a couple of things happening to women's bodies when she's pregnant," she said. "Women often experience things likes swollen gums, red bleeding, irritated and bad breath."

She adds that could grow severe if it goes unchecked and studies show poor oral health in pregnant women can also affect the baby.

"It has been proven that it can lead to low birth weight in babies," she said. 

An aspect she believes only adds to why dental health should be a priority.

"So it's really good that there's a push to raise awareness because not only do they need to have intense cleanings during the pregnancy, but they need to do it before," she said. 

Barole said as a mom your number one priority is protecting your baby but that also means protecting yourself too.

"You want to do everything you can to protect the health of your baby and you want to make sure they have a good start to life and having goof oral health is one of those things," she said. 

She dentist recommends women planning on having a baby to pay attention to their oral health and if you are already expecting it is a good idea to get you teeth cleaned every three to four months to keep bacteria in check.