Maternal Oral Health: An Examination Survey Conducted in Three Referral Hospitals in Bhutan

  • Sonam Ngedup Department of Dentistry, Jigme Dorji Wangchuk National Referral Hospital, Thimphu, Bhutan.
  • Mary Alice Lee Yale University School of Public Health, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.
  • Dorji Phurpa Department of Dentistry, Jigme Dorji Wangchuk National Referral Hospital, Thimphu, Bhutan.
  • Neyzang Wangmo Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan, Thimphu, Bhutan.
Keywords: Dental caries; DMFT; oral health; oral hygiene; periodontal disease; pregnancy.


Background: Good oral health is important for women during pregnancy and throughout their lives. Mothers with good oral health are less likely to transmit cariogenic bacteria to their infants and toddlers. Thus, maternal oral health is directly related to family health.

Objective: To determine the prevalence of dental caries, periodontal diseases and modifiable risk factors among pregnant women seeking antenatal care in three referral hospitals in Bhutan.

Methods: A descriptive cross-sectional survey of pregnant women was conducted in April-May 2017. We used a non-probability sampling method to recruit pregnant women (n=443). Oral examinations were done according to methods recommended by the WHO. Participants completed a questionnaire for modifiable risk factors.

Results: Overall, caries prevalence was 40% among pregnant women, ranging from 54% in those under 25 to 81% in women 35 and older. The mean decayed, missing and filled permanent teeth (DMFT) was 1.93 (SD=2.66). Nearly 72% of women had calculus on their teeth. Just over 2% had periodontitis. Most women rated their oral health as good to excellent (89%) versus poor (11%). Just 11% reported having had dental care during pregnancy.

Conclusions: There is an urgent need for professional dental care during pregnancy, especially among older and multiparous women. Increasing awareness on the importance of oral health during pregnancy will improve maternal health and the health of their young children.


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