Dental Health Week - pregnant women urged to look after oral health

2 August 2016

As part of its Dental Health Week promotion, the ADA has released a new study, The Australian Women and Dental Health Survey which reveals that more than half the women surveyed (53.7%) believe it is unsafe to visit a dentist during pregnancy.

This is particularly concerning news given that morning sickness, increased snacking and sugary cravings during pregnancy heighten the risk of long-term damage to women's oral health. In fact, 76% of respondents were unaware that morning sickness can have a significant negative impact on teeth.

In addition, hormonal changes can make gums more prone to bleeding, swelling and inflammation leading an increased likelihood of gum disease and possible subsequent tooth loss. 

In response to these findings, which illustrate a need for all women to consider their dentist as a vital part of the team of health professionals they consult during pregnancy, experts such as Dr Peter Aldritt, a dentist and Chair of the ADA's Oral Health Committee, have encouraged women to reassess how they view dental care while pregnant.

"Getting a check-up during pregnancy is not only safe, but important for a woman’s dental health, and the health of her unborn child. Pregnancy is a crucial stage in a woman’s life, and maintaining oral health is directly related to good overall health. Gum disease and dental damage can be managed during pregnancy as long as women take appropriate preventative steps to help protect their teeth – such as visiting the dentist on top of brushing and flossing daily."

The survey also uncovered that 67.1% of Australian girls going through puberty don't regularly visit the dentist, and that for those entering menopause, which most women undergo between the ages of 47-55, almost half (48.9%) have experienced signs of gum disease including sensitive teeth (26.9%) and dry mouth (14.4%). Yet despite this, 70% admit that they fail to visit the dentist every six months.

The ADA is encouraging women at every stage of life to see their dentist regularly and to go to to learn more about protecting their teeth and gums during periods of hormonal change such as puberty, pregnancy and menopause.