Midwives and oral health care during pregnancy: perceptions of pregnant women in south-western Sydney, Australia.J Clin Nurs. 2012 Apr; 21(7-8):1087-96.JC
AIMS AND OBJECTIVE
This study sought to explore the perceptions of pregnant women in Australia towards oral health care during pregnancy and their views regarding midwives providing oral health education, assessment and referrals as part of antenatal care.
Maintaining oral health during pregnancy is important. Yet, many pregnant women do not access dental services during this time. Antenatal care providers are now recommended to promote maternal oral health, and various countries have adopted this strategy. However, in Australia, a lack of emphasis is placed on maternal oral health especially by antenatal care providers. Currently, a preventive programme is being developed to promote maternal oral health with the help of midwives in Australia. Very little is known about the perceptions of such an approach from pregnant women.
Data were collected via semi-structured telephone interviews with 10 pregnant women residing in south-western Sydney.
Thematic analyses of the data suggest a high prevalence of poor oral health among pregnant women, especially those socioeconomically disadvantaged. The findings also highlight various barriers deterring these women from seeking dental care the most significant being lack of dental awareness, high treatment costs and misconceptions about dental treatment during pregnancy. The absence of affordable dental care remains a major barrier in Australia. The proposed preventive programme was well received by women although issues such as education for midwives and referral pathways were highlighted.
The findings suggest that a tailored midwifery-initiated oral health programme has potential in Australia, especially for low-income families as it addresses many existing barriers to dental care.
RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE
Antenatal care providers in Australia should provide more information about oral health. These health professionals should be adequately educated to promote oral health. Health services should also consider offering pregnant women affordable and accessible dental services.