Dental Public Health

Research under way within the Meharry School of Dentistry is a collaboration funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation at Meharry.


Machelle Thompson
An interprofessional educational approach to increasing access to health services for African American women at risk for pre-term low birth weight babies

Access to quality oral health care is important because the condition of one's oral health is directly related to one's systemic health. Conditions ranging from diabetes to cardiovascular health are all affected by one's oral health status. Current research makes the case that the condition of an expectant mother's oral health affects the success of her pregnancy outcome. Specifically, periodontal disease increases the risk of negative pregnancy outcomes. Dr. Thompson is spearheading an inter-professional educational program through which African-American women in Davidson County will increase access to health services and reduce the number of preterm and low birth weight babies by improving oral their oral health. Participants in the collaboration are the Meharry School of Dentistry, the Center for Women's Health Research at Meharry, Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center, and the March of Dimes Nashville. Data collected will be analyzed to recommend policy changes that will positively impact pregnancy and oral health outcomes of African-American women.