Women's attitudes to and perceptions of oral health and dental care during pregnancy
Marc J.N.C. Keirse1,
Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia
Journal of Perinatal Medicine. Volume 38, Issue 1, Pages 3–8, ISSN (Online) 1619-3997, ISSN (Print) 0300-5577, DOI: 10.1515/JPM.2010.007, January 2010
Publication History: Received: 16/3/2009; revised: 1/6/2009; accepted: 3/8/2009; published online: 05/01/2010
Aims: To assess pregnant women's opinions on and perceptions of oral health and their relationship to oral hygiene and dental care practices.
Methods: Questionnaire survey on perceived oral health, oral hygiene and utilization of dental services among 649 nulliparae attending for antenatal care at all public antenatal clinics in Adelaide, South Australia.
Results: Women rated their general health significantly better than their oral health (P<0.001) and attributed more importance to healthy teeth for their baby than for themselves (P<0.001). Only 35% had dental care during pregnancy; 35% had no dental visit for at least two years and 27% reported cost as a major deterrent. Eighteen percent had experienced gingival bleeding before pregnancy and 41% during pregnancy. Gingival bleeding outside pregnancy was clearly related to perceived oral health (P<0.001), but this was less so for bleeding during pregnancy. The latter was not related to age, level of education, employment, marital status, or smoking habits. Only 38% of women with gingival bleeding in pregnancy had a dental care visit in pregnancy and 28% considered their oral health as very good.
Conclusions: Many pregnant women do not perceive gingival bleeding as indicating inflammatory disease and seek no professional help for it. Maternity care providers need to devote more attention to oral health in antenatal clinics and antenatal education.
Keywords Dental care, gingivitis, maternal behavior, oral health, oral hygiene, periodontal disease, prenatal care, questionnaire survey, smoking, women's opinions