In a new survey, two in every three (67 per cent) of women said they did not think the two problems were related while only one in four (25 per cent) said they would take steps to improve their oral health despite knowing it could cause complications during pregnancy.
In the last 12 months the Foundation has reported on a number of scientific studies showing possible links between the two health problems. Research has revealed a 34 per cent reduction in risk of preterm births for expectant mums suffering with gum disease if they underwent simple treatment at the dentist or hygienist.
Further studies have also shown mums who are more able to handle stress in their environment had children with better oral health. Karen Coates, Dental Advisor at the British Dental Health Foundation, encourages all women not to ignore the wealth of evidence suggesting a link.
Ms Coates said: “Taking care of your own oral hygiene is important at all times, but none more so than when you’re expecting a baby. As many women will testify, the significant changes to the body mean taking extra care, and that includes oral health.
“There has been a lot of research that shows poor oral health can lead to complications during pregnancy, and it should not be overlooked. If a good oral hygiene routine means mums to be experience less problems during their pregnancy, it is important to educate this particular group about how they can go about doing just that.
“Many women find that hormonal changes cause their oral health to get worse during pregnancy. Some women find their gums bleed more easily, while people who already have gum disease may find that it progresses more rapidly.
“If you are pregnant, it really is vital to take extra care of your mouth. You should brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, and take extra care that you are brushing for the full two minutes and clean every surface of every tooth. You should also clean between the teeth using interdental brushes or floss. Visit the dentist regularly as often as they recommend, and cut down on the frequency of sugary foods and drinks.
“NHS treatment is free for expectant mothers up until their child’s first birthday. All you need is to be an NHS patient and to have a current maternity exemption certificate.”
The findings have been revealed as part of National Smile Month, a month-long campaign run by the British Dental Health Foundation. The campaign, which draws to a close on 20 June, promotes three key messages for oral health:
- Brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste,
- Cut down on how often you have sugary foods and drinks,
- Visit the dentist regularly, as often as they recommend.