More expectant mothers seek dental care

National 2 minutes, 3 seconds


MORE expectant mothers underwent dental check-ups under the antenatal programme last year.

In 2015, a total of 1,125 antenatal mothers were seen in dental clinics under the programme, up from 1,108 in 2014, said Dr Paulina Lim Kae Yan, co-head of the Oral Health Promotion Division at the Department of Dental Services.

However, Dr Lim said they would have liked to see more expectant mothers visiting dental clinics as pregnant mothers are at higher risk of gum disease if they have poor oral hygiene. Dr Lim said one of the greatest difficulties comes from convincing expectant mothers and their families about the importance of maintaining their oral health.

“They probably don’t see the need because they aren’t in pain or don’t need a dental check-up,” she said.

The antenatal programme provides counseling, educates expectant mothers on lifestyle changes they should be making and provides dental health care advice for improving and maintaining their oral health.

Dr Lim said some people may find it difficult to adjust and make the necessary changes due to family circumstances while others may not be open to the idea of change.

“Parents always do what’s best for their families, and if somebody comes along and tells you that you need to change things that you’ve grown up doing and are comfortable with, some people may be open to that and sometimes they aren’t,” she added.

Dr Lim said studies have shown that pregnant mothers with gum disease were more likely to have preterm birth and low birth weight babies. “Mothers with high levels of cariogenic bacteria due to untreated tooth decay predispose their infants to development of tooth decay,” she said.

She added that it is particularly important to maintain and practise effective oral healthcare during pregnancy because the accompanying surge in hormones can exaggerate the way the gums react to the presence of dental plaque.

Dr Lim said other reasons given by expectant mothers for being unable to visit dental clinics were lack of time, lack of transport and too many antenatal check-ups.

But she added that pregnant mothers who receive referrals to dental clinics are given priority when they go for their dental check-up.

“Pregnant mothers referred to dental clinics are given priority to be seen, minimising their waiting time.”

Dr Lim said that through the programme, they also want to empower and educate mothers with the necessary knowledge to ensure that their children have good oral health.

The Brunei Times