September is neonatal intensive care awareness month and one way mothers can keep their babies out of the NICU is to improve their oral health, experts say.

St. Joseph’s Health says better dental care could help lower the number of premature births that come through their level three neonatal intensive care unit. Dr. James Brown is the Medical Director from St. Joseph’s Health and he says that dental care and regular dental visits can in fact contribute to less premature births.

Research shows that there is a link between pregnant women and their dental health and premature birth, he added. The reason for this is that hormones fluctuate during pregnancy causing teeth to loosen. That then puts pregnant women a higher risk of infection which then can cause problems within the body.

Morning sickness is also another factor. At least 70 percent of pregnant women experience morning sickness in the form of nausea and vomiting. Morning sickness can increase the level of acid in the mouth which in turn also puts women at greater risk of poor health.

St. Joseph’s Health is invested in helping their patients including those expecting and in addition to its Level III NICU, they offer a dental residency and dental clinic to make dental health accessible to the greater Syracuse community.