Pregnancy and Oral Health: Disclosure of Risks and Awareness for Expectant Mothers

In a recent study published in the journal BMC Pregnancy and ChildbirthResearchers have explored the importance of oral health during pregnancy.

Pregnancy causes hormonal changes, which also affect the oral cavity. Studies have shown that periodontal disease symptoms are associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes such as preeclampsia, low birth weight, preterm birth, gestational diabetes, premature rupture of membranes, and vulvovaginitis. Although the level of plaque remains unchanged during pregnancy, the inflammation of the gums increases significantly, reaches its peak in the third trimester and decreases after three months.

Special care can be taken for oral health when pregnant women crave sweet foods, which can affect the formation of plaque. A healthy diet during pregnancy has a positive effect on reducing periodontal and gum inflammation. In addition, studies indicate that the healthy behavior of expectant mothers depends on various socioeconomic characteristics. Therefore, maintaining good oral health during pregnancy is critical to the overall health of both mother and newborn.

Research: How much do pregnant women know about the importance of oral health during pregnancy? Questionnaire based survey. Image credit: Nicoleta Ionescu/Shutterstock

The study and its findings

In the present study, researchers assessed the awareness of the importance of oral health during pregnancy. A questionnaire was prepared and distributed to mothers aged 19-44 who gave birth at obstetric clinics. The questionnaire was designed to collect information on five demographic factors and 11 items related to oral health.

Unsolicited responses from dentists to gain real-world knowledge about women’s oral health during pregnancy. Mean, median, standard deviation, and (low and high) quartiles were calculated for continuous data. Analysis of variance (ANOVA), chi-square test, Mann-Winney U test, or Krukal-Wallis test was performed to estimate statistical significance.

The group received responses from 200 women with an average of 31.9. Some participants did not respond to all items in the questionnaire. Based on the data of 170 subjects, the average gestational age was 38.9 weeks. Most subjects (55.5%) had higher education. Natural division was reported by 45% of respondents; 48.5% underwent caesarean section.

40% of participants reported nausea during pregnancy. Only 20% had a dental check-up when planning or preparing for pregnancy, and 38.5% had it after pregnancy confirmation. Attainment of higher education is strongly associated with dental examination.

About 20% of the subjects considered this examination not necessary because they did not have oral and dental problems, while 22% said they did not have the time or money for it. About 30% of people self-rated their oral health before pregnancy as very good; 51.5% said it was good. Approximately 18% reported discomfort with calculus and minor caries.

Longer gestation was associated with poorer self-rated prepregnancy oral health. After giving birth, 21% rated their oral health as very good, while 47% rated it as good. Some participants (5%) received orthodontic treatment during pregnancy. However, almost one fourth of the participants are not aware of the importance of oral hygiene during pregnancy.

Most of the participants (59.5%) understood its importance during pregnancy, only 16.5% knew (about) it before pregnancy. Most subjects reported brushing twice a day; Some report brushing four times a day. Participants with higher education were more likely to brush their teeth more frequently. Gum bleeding was reported by 37% of participants and was associated with nausea during pregnancy.

15% of the participants reported local gingivitis during pregnancy, which was significantly associated with younger age. It was also more frequent among women who had a caesarean section and experienced nausea during pregnancy. Complaints related to gums or teeth were more common in younger people and in people with nausea during pregnancy.

Dental symptoms were found in 24.5% of participants. 31% of individuals reported dental treatment during pregnancy, which was more common in younger subjects. One third of the participants reported oral cavity damage. Only 5% of teeth were extracted during pregnancy.


Overall, the researchers found that many individuals believe that good oral health prior to pregnancy has a positive impact on the pregnancy process and that most individuals recognize its importance during pregnancy. However, about 25% were still unaware.

The authors observed an association between longer gestation and poorer self-rated pre-pregnancy oral health, particularly among those with lower educational attainment. Therefore, at-risk individuals should be identified and given better care and education. Furthermore, the impact of oral health on pregnancy management and fetal development is still unclear.

Written by

When I saw Tarun, I cried

Tarun is a writer based in Hyderabad, India. He has a master’s degree in biotechnology from the University of Hyderabad and is passionate about scientific research. He enjoys reading research papers and literature reviews and is passionate about writing.


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