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Open Access Research article

Oral and dental health care practices in pregnant women in Australia: a postnatal survey

Natalie J Thomas*, Philippa F Middleton and Caroline A Crowther

Author Affiliations

Discipline of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, The University of Adelaide, SA, Australia

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BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2008, 8:13  doi:10.1186/1471-2393-8-13

Published: 21 April 2008

Abstract

Background

The aims of this study were to assess women's knowledge and experiences of dental health in pregnancy and to examine the self-care practices of pregnant women in relation to their oral health.

Methods

Women in the postnatal ward at the Women's and Children's Hospital, Adelaide, completed a questionnaire to assess their knowledge, attitudes and practices to periodontal health. Pregnancy outcomes were collected from their medical records. Results were analysed by chi-square tests, using SAS.

Results

Of the 445 women enrolled in the survey, 388 (87 per cent) completed the questionnaire. Most women demonstrated reasonable knowledge about dental health. There was a significant association between dental knowledge and practices with both education and socio-economic status. Women with less education and lower socio-economic status were more likely to be at higher risk of poor periodontal health compared with women with greater levels of education and higher socioeconomic status.

Conclusion

Most women were knowledgeable about oral and dental health. Lack of knowledge about oral and dental health was strongly linked to women with lower education achievements and lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Whether more intensive dental health education in pregnancy can lead to improved oral health and ultimately improved pregnancy outcomes requires further study.