In a recent study published in the journal Pregnancy and Childbirth BMCresearchers investigated the importance of oral health during pregnancy.
Pregnancy causes hormonal changes that also affect the oral cavity. Studies have reported that signs of periodontal disease are associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as pre-eclampsia, low birth weight, premature delivery, gestational diabetes, premature rupture of membranes, and vulvovaginitis. Although plaque levels remain unchanged during pregnancy, gingivitis increases significantly, peaking in the third trimester and declining three months after delivery.
Special oral health care can be taken into account when pregnant women crave sweet foods, which affects patterns of plaque formation. Healthy diets during pregnancy can have a positive effect in reducing gingivitis and periodontitis. Moreover, studies show that the healthy behavior of future mothers depends on different socioeconomic characteristics. Therefore, maintaining good oral health throughout pregnancy is vital to the overall health of the mother and her newborn.
Stady: How much does a pregnant woman know about the importance of oral health during pregnancy? questionnaire-based survey. Image credit: Nicoleta Ionescu/Shutterstock
Study and results
In this study, the researchers assessed awareness of the importance of oral health during pregnancy. A questionnaire was prepared and distributed to mothers between the ages of 19 and 44 who delivered in gynecological clinics. The questionnaire was designed to collect data on five demographic items and 11 items related to oral health.
Responses were provided without seeking the assistance of dentists to obtain real-world knowledge of female oral health awareness during pregnancy. The mean, median, standard deviation, and quartile (lower and upper) were calculated for continuous data. Analysis of variance (ANOVA), chi-square test, Mann-Whiney U test, or Kruskal-Wallis test was performed to estimate statistical significance.
The team obtained responses from 200 females with an average age of 31.9. Some participants did not respond to all of the items in the questionnaire. The average gestational age was 38.9 weeks, based on data from 170 people. Most of the subjects (55.5%) had a higher education. Normal delivery was reported by 45% of respondents; 48.5% had a caesarean section.
About 40% of female participants reported nausea during pregnancy. Only 20% of the participants underwent a dental examination when planning or preparing for pregnancy, while 38.5% had it after confirming the pregnancy. Obtaining higher education was significantly associated with having a dental exam.
Almost 20% of people considered this examination unnecessary because they had no problems with their mouth or teeth, while 22% stated that they did not have the time or money for it. About 30% of the participants rated their oral health before pregnancy as very good; 51.5% rated it good. Approximately 18% reported discomfort with calculus and small caries.
Prolonged pregnancy is associated with poor self-assessment of oral health before pregnancy. After giving birth, about 21% rated their oral health as very good, and 47% described it as good. Some of the participants (5%) had orthodontics during pregnancy. However, nearly a quarter of the participants lacked awareness of the importance of oral hygiene during pregnancy.
Most of the participants (59.5%) realized its importance during pregnancy, while only 16.5% knew (about it) before pregnancy. Most subjects reported brushing twice daily; Some report brushing four times daily. Participants with higher education were more likely to brush their teeth. Bleeding gums was reported by 37% of female participants, and was associated with nausea during pregnancy.
About 15% of the participants reported localized gingival overgrowth during pregnancy, which was significantly associated with younger age. It was also more common among females who had a cesarean section and those who experienced nausea during pregnancy. Complaints about the gums or teeth were more common among younger people and those who experienced nausea during pregnancy.
Signs of dental hypersensitivity were present in 24.5% of the participants. About 31% of individuals reported dental treatment during pregnancy, which was significantly more common in younger subjects. A third of the participants reported a deterioration in the oral cavity. Only 5% had a tooth extracted during pregnancy.
In summary, the researchers noted that many individuals were aware before pregnancy that good oral health would positively influence the course of pregnancy, and most of them understood its importance during pregnancy. However, there were about 25% of those who were still unaware.
The authors noted an association between a longer pregnancy and poorer self-ratings of oral health before pregnancy, particularly among those with lower educational attainment. As such, at-risk individuals must be identified and better care and education provided. Furthermore, the impact of oral health on pregnancy management and fetal development remains elusive.