A new survey released to coincide with Dental Health Week (1-7 August) by the Australian Dental Association (ADA) reveals that 53 per cent of mums-to-be across the country are jeopardising their oral health by not visiting a dentist during pregnancy.
The results of the Australian Women and Dental Health Survey have dismayed the nation’s experts who warn it is crucial for women to consult their dentist during pregnancy as hormone changes can make gums more prone to bleeding, swelling and inflammation—which can lead to an increased risk of gum disease resulting in tooth loss.
Dr Peter Alldritt, dentist and chair of the ADA’s Oral Health Committee, said that “the prevalence of gum disease during pregnancy is high.”
According to the data, 38 per cent of pregnant women have experienced symptoms of gum disease such as bleeding gums. gum sensitivity and sensitive teeth.
In addition, three quarters of pregnant women are not aware that morning sickness can lead to permanent damage to teeth, and many believe that it is not safe to visit the dentist while pregnant.
Dr Alldritt said, “Morning sickness can cause permanent damage to teeth, and frequent vomiting can also coat teeth with strong stomach acids, which can weaken the tooth enamel and increase the risk of tooth decay and erosion. Clearly we need to do more to dispel the myths around the danger of visiting the dentist when 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,” he said.
“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 same survey also found that two thirds of Australian teenage girls going through puberty don’t regularly visit the dentist.
And for those entering menopause, almost half have experienced signs of gum disease including sensitive teeth and dry mouth—yet despite such symptoms, 70 per cent claim they do not visit the dentist every six months.