Frequency and risk indicators of tooth decay among pregnant women in France: a cross-sectional analysis

PLoS One. 2012;7(5):e33296. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0033296. Epub 2012 May 7.


Introduction: Little is known on the prevalence of tooth decay among pregnant women. Better knowledge of tooth decay risk indicators during pregnancy could help to develop follow-up protocols for women at risk, along with better prevention strategies. The aim of this study was to assess the frequency of tooth decay and the number of decayed teeth per woman in a large sample of pregnant women in France, and to study associated risk indicators.

Methods: A secondary cross-sectional analysis of data from a French multicentre case-control study was performed. The sample was composed of 1094 at-term women of six maternity units. A dental examination was carried out within 2 to 4 days post-partum. Socio-demographic and behavioural characteristics were obtained through a standardised interview with the women. Medical characteristics were obtained from the women's medical records. Risk indicators associated with tooth decay were identified using a negative binomial hurdle model.

Results: 51.6% of the women had tooth decay. The mean number of decayed teeth among women having at least one was 3.1 (s.d. = 2.8). Having tooth decay was statistically associated with lower age (aOR = 1.58, 95%CI [1.03,2.45]), lower educational level (aOR = 1.53, 95%CI [1.06,2.23]) and dental plaque (aOR = 1.75, 95%CI [1.27,2.41]). The number of decayed teeth was associated with the same risk indicators and with non-French nationality and inadequate prenatal care.

Discussion: The frequency of tooth decay and the number of decayed teeth among pregnant women were high. Oral health promotion programmes must continue to inform women and care providers about the importance of dental care before, during and after pregnancy. Future research should also assess the effectiveness of public policies related to oral health in target populations of pregnant women facing challenging social or economic situations.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dental Caries* / epidemiology
  • Dental Caries* / prevention & control
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications*
  • Risk Factors
  • Tooth Loss / complications*
  • Tooth Loss / epidemiology*