>When it comes to the dangers associated with poor oral health, tooth decay and gum disease top the list. However, poor oral health can also represent a less commonly understood risk to pregnant women, as well.
Women of childbearing age in the U.S. should be better encouraged to maintain improved oral care and visit the dentist regularly, finds a new study conducted by researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Researchers discovered that young pregnant women, those who are Mexican-American or non-Hispanic black, as well as those with less education and lower income, need to improve their oral care.
Oral disease, with symptoms like gum disease or tooth decay, may be prevented or treated through regular dental visits. In addition to causing discomfort, previous studies have found that oral health problems may be linked to certain pregnancy problems, according to researchers.
Researchers also noted that prenatal checkups provide doctors with a vital opportunity to encourage women to undergo routine preventive dental care.
As part of the study, researchers looked at self-reported oral health information collected on nearly 900 pregnant women and nearly 4,000 women of childbearing age (considered any women between the ages of 15 to 44 years old) who were not pregnant. The information was collected from the 1999 to 2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
Regardless of whether the women participating in the study were pregnant, researchers discovered disparities in oral health and the use of dental services among women in the childbearing age group.
The number of women who reported as enjoying very good oral health was significantly higher among older pregnant women than younger pregnant women. This suggested to researchers that older women are more aware of the importance of protecting their oral health during pregnancy than younger women, and more willing to undergo oral care. It could also signify that older women have better access to dental insurance that younger women, but researchers were unable to conclusively find a correlation.
The number of younger women who were not pregnant who said they enjoyed quality oral health, however, was far higher than the percentage of older pregnant women who said the same. Researchers concluded this could be due to younger women not having the same cumulative effects of dental disease as their older counterparts.