New Study Reveals Poor Standard Of Perinatal Oral Healthcare In Australia

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Dr. Ajesh George Image source: Sophie Cooley

Dr. Ajesh George
Image source: Sophie Cooley

Major Ingham Institute 2013 award winner launches new study revealing poor standard of perinatal oral healthcare in Australia.

UWS nursing researcher Dr Ajesh George from the Ingham Institute’s Centre for Applied Nursing Research (CANR), who achieved the Early Career Researcher Award at last year’s inaugural Ingham Institute Awards Dinner, has launched a new study revealing a below average standard of perinatal oral healthcare in Australia.

Perinatal oral healthcare is essential to maximise the health and wellbeing of Australian mothers and their offspring and prevent disease.

Pregnancy hormones, morning sickness and food cravings increase the risk of dental decay and gum disease for pregnant mothers and these problems have the potential to be passed on to their offspring especially if inappropriate feeding practices are followed.

Dr George’s new study surveyed a random sample of dentists, midwives, general practitioners and obstetricians/gynaecologists in NSW to provide vital information about the current knowledge, attitudes and practices of dentists and prenatal providers in Australia regarding perinatal oral health.

The results showed an overwhelming lack of consensus in perinatal oral health among health professionals – highlighting the need for further education and training resources like CANR’s ‘Midwifery Initiated Dental Service’ to be rolled out broadly throughout Australia.

Dr George also said that his research revealed obstacles to progressing perinatal oral healthcare on the patient side, with concerns such as healthcare costs and a lack of education raised from the pregnant mothers in earlier studies.

“The main barriers in promoting maternal oral healthcare is the inability of pregnant women to pay for dental care and a lack of specific practice guidelines about oral health care during pregnancy for health professionals,” he continued.

“The results also revealed a general lack of concern about the need to maintain a good standard of oral healthcare during pregnancy and misinformation and confusion about the safety of dental procedures during pregnancy.”

Dr George said that the results of the study validated perinatal oral healthcare as a national health concern and confirmed the need for a national survey to be conducted in this area amongst dentists and antenatal care providers Australia-wide.

Interview with Dr. George Ajesh: