Home Print this page Email this page Small font size Default font size Increase font size
Users Online: 404
Home About us Editorial board Search Ahead of print Current issue Archives Submit article Instructions Subscribe Contacts Login 

 Table of Contents 
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 1976-1980  

Effect of socioeconomic status on dental caries during pregnancy

Department of Oral Pathology and Microbiology, School of Dental Sciences, Krishna Institute of Medical Sciences "Deemed to be University", Karad, Satara, Maharashtra, India

Date of Submission05-Apr-2019
Date of Decision07-Apr-2019
Date of Acceptance16-Apr-2019
Date of Web Publication26-Jun-2019

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Wasim I Kamate
260/4 Malkapur, Dhebewadi Road, Near Patan Urban Bank, Karad, Satara - 415 110, Maharashtra
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jfmpc.jfmpc_283_19

Rights and Permissions

Background and Objective: It is generally agreed that people with low socioeconomic status have a significantly worse oral and general health compared to people with higher socioeconomic status. The aim of the study was to find out the role of socioeconomic status of pregnant women on their oral health by evaluating the dental caries risk factor, the salivary Streptococcus mutans count and DMFT index. Materials and Methods: A total of 50 first time pregnant women were randomly sampled and were divided into different socioeconomic strata following the Kuppuswamy socioeconomic status scale. DMFT index and microbiological assessment of dental caries risk factor parameter, the salivary Streptococcus mutans colony forming units, were carried out during the three trimesters and postpartum period. The observations were compared with 50 non-pregnant women of same age group. Results: Of the randomly sampled subjects, majority of the pregnant women (28/50) of the study group were of middle/lower middle class, 11 pregnant women were of upper middle class, and 11 were of the lower/upper lower class. When followed in their three trimesters and postpartum period, statistically significant increase in the salivary Streptococcus mutans colony forming units was noted in 2nd trimester, 3rd trimester and postpartum period (P value < 0.05) of all pregnant women. Comparison of the caries risk factor between the pregnant women of three socioeconomic strata, however, revealed that no particular class was at a higher risk for dental caries. Conclusion: This study gives an insight into the possible changing trends towards awareness for oral hygiene in various socioeconomic strata of pregnant women.

Keywords: Dental caries, Kuppuswamy socioeconomic status, pregnancy, Streptococcus mutans

How to cite this article:
Kamate WI, Vibhute N, Baad R, Belgaumi U, Kadashetti V, Bommanavar S. Effect of socioeconomic status on dental caries during pregnancy. J Family Med Prim Care 2019;8:1976-80

How to cite this URL:
Kamate WI, Vibhute N, Baad R, Belgaumi U, Kadashetti V, Bommanavar S. Effect of socioeconomic status on dental caries during pregnancy. J Family Med Prim Care [serial online] 2019 [cited 2021 May 12];8:1976-80. Available from: https://www.jfmpc.com/text.asp?2019/8/6/1976/261409

  Introduction Top

Socioeconomic status is correlated with oral health. It is generally agreed that people with low socioeconomic status have a significantly worse oral and general health compared to people with higher socioeconomic status.[1],[2] Pregnancy may have an important effect on oral health, and pregnant women are a population group with special needs in terms of oral health status. International research studies show that oral health care for pregnant women has been inadequate, especially in relation to the areas of education and health promotion with some evidence of disparities by socioeconomic status and ethnicity.[2],[3]

Salivary analysis has become an important resource for the evaluation of salivary conditions with physiologic and pathologic implications and is a useful tool for disease diagnosis, mainly due to its origin, composition, functions, and interactions with other organ systems. With the addition of modern techniques and chemical instrumentation equipment, there has recently been an observable increase in the use saliva for laboratory investigations. The value of saliva as a diagnostic tool for oral and systemic diseases has been an area of study for many researchers with the aim of increasing its use as a possible complementary exam.[4]

The primary initiator of dental caries is Streptococcus mutans and several studies have demonstrated association of Streptococcus mutans and caries in humans. The presence of Streptococcus mutans can greatly increase the risk of caries if the host's defense mechanisms do not override the bacteria.[5] In order to evaluate the risk of dental caries, microbiological tests that determine the density of Streptococcus mutans have a prognostic value and represent a useful diagnostic method in correlation with clinical examination.[6]

The present study was conducted to evaluate the salivary Streptococcus mutans count, as a prognostic indicator for dental caries, in various socioeconomic classes during the pregnancy and postpartum period.

  Materials and Methods Top

Total 50 first-time pregnant women in their first trimester were randomly selected from the outpatient department of Gynaecology of Krishna Institute of Medical Sciences, Karad. Fifty non-pregnant women of same age group were considered as the control group. The present research was approved by the ethical committee of Krishna Institute of Medical Science Deemed University, Karad.

Inclusion criteria

Total 50 first-time pregnant women of:

  1. First trimester (later followed in 2nd trimester, 3rd trimester, and postpartum period)
  2. First-time pregnant
  3. Age group of 18–28 years

Exclusion criteria

  1. Patients using any form of medication modifying saliva.
  2. DMFT score greater than 15.
  3. Clinical signs of xerostomia.
  4. History of any systemic diseases

Pregnant women showing direct/indirect factors affecting the DMFT scores were excluded from the study.

The pregnant women were evaluated in the following schedule,

  1. 6th week of pregnancy (1st trimester)
  2. 18th week of pregnancy (2nd trimester)
  3. 30th week of pregnancy (3rd trimester)
  4. 6th week after delivery (Postpartum period)

The control group was evaluated during the 5th month from the start of the study.

Questionnaire for scoring of Kuppuswamy socioeconomic status

A pretested questionnaire and proforma designed in Marathi language for ease of understanding and response was used for collecting all the required and relevant information. The questionnaire included questions regarding name, age, oral hygiene practices and gravid status.

The modified Kuppuswamy Socioeconomic Status Scale (2014) was used in the current study. Usually education and occupation of head of the family are not changeable with time. The Consumer price index (CPI) value was calculated taking 2001 as the base year. Detailed information of education, occupation and family monthly income was recorded for scoring of Kuppuswamy Socioeconomic Status Scale.

Clinical examination for scoring of DMFT index

During the three trimesters, we evaluated the caries risk in pregnant women. All the clinical procedures were carried out in the middle of morning (around 9 to 11 am), in a comfortable room free of noise and distraction. The dental examinations were conducted under standardized conditions using a dental mirror and dental probe.

DMFT (Decayed, Missing and Filled teeth) indices were scored in accordance with World Health Organization (WHO) criteria.[7] All tooth surfaces were visually examined. The dental probe was used only to remove debris and food particles in order to improve visibility. Caries was recorded as present when a lesion in a pit or fissure or on a smooth tooth surface had an unmistakable cavity, undermined enamel or a detectably softened floor or wall.[8]

Microbiological assay of salivary Streptococcus mutans count

Two hours prior to the saliva collection, all subjects were instructed not to eat anything after a standard breakfast. The subjects were seated comfortably on the chair. The collection of unstimulated whole saliva was performed under resting conditions. Unstimulated whole saliva samples were collected for 10 minutes from each subject at the same time of day (between 09.00 a.m. and 11.00 a.m.). Following standard procedures, subjects were asked to wash their mouth and sit passively for 10 minutes as the saliva accumulated in the floor of the mouth and expectorate in a relaxed position with their heads bent forward, allowing the saliva to drain through the open lips into a sterile graduated collection cup.

Collected samples were maintained in ice after collection and transported to the Microbiology department, not exceeding half hour period since beginning of sample collection.

Culturing of Streptococcus mutans

Mitis Salivarius Agar (MSA) was one of the first media to be developed as a selective medium for culturing Streptococci species in general. Addition of 0.2 U/mL of bacitracin and 10% sucrose has led to an improved medium (MSB) with high selection of Streptococcus mutans.[9]

Aliquots of 0.5 mL of saliva were diluted in a 10-fold solution of sterile Phosphate buffered saline (0.05M; pH 7.3) and 20 microliter (μL) was then plated on Mitis-Salivarius agar supplemented with bacitracin (0.2 U/mL) and 10% sucrose. The plates were incubated in a 5% carbon dioxide environment at 37°C for 48 hours.

Identification of colonies

Following incubation, colonies were identified by morphological characteristics of the bacteria. Streptococcus mutans can be distinguished from other species by raised, convex, undulate, opaque, pale blue colonies, granular “frosted glass” appearance.[9]

The identification of Streptococcus mutans was confirmed by gram staining and biochemical tests like catalase, mannitol, and sorbitol fermentation of randomly selected samples.

Counting of colonies

Colony counting for Streptococcus mutans was done under a colony counter and the number of “colony forming units” were multiplied by the number of times the original “mL” of sample was diluted and expressed as the number of Colony Forming Units per milliliter (CFU/mL).

Scoring of colonies

The colonies were scored by following Berkowitz et al. criteria.[10]

  • 0 = no growth
  • 1 = 1-103
  • 2 = 103-105
  • 3= >105 colony forming units (CFU) per ml of saliva.

  Results Top

Total 50 pregnant and non-pregnant women completed the study. The mean age of the pregnant women in the study was 23.92 years and for non-pregnant women in the control group was 22.16 years.

Socioeconomic status in pregnant women

Using Kuppuswamy Socioeconomic Status Scale, the pregnant women were divided into upper middle, middle/lower and lower/upper lower socioeconomic classes [Table 1].
Table 1: Socioeconomic status in pregnant women

Click here to view

DMFT and socioeconomic status in pregnant and non-pregnant women

The scoring of DMFT index was carried out in the three trimesters of pregnancy and in postpartum period which was then compared with the DMFT scores of the control group. By using Wilcoxon sign rank test, statistically significant difference was noted in the mean DMFT of 50 pregnant women in 3rd trimester and postpartum period when compared to the control group (P value < 0.05) [Table 2].
Table 2: DMFT in pregnant and non-pregnant women

Click here to view

DMFT score was compared between pregnant women of three socioeconomic statuses and P value was deducted. By using Kruscal wallis test, P value was > 0.05, therefore there was no significant difference in DMFT scores with respect to socioeconomic class at 1st trimester to post-partum period [Table 3].
Table 3: Median DMFT of pregnant women and in postpartum period, in three socioeconomic status

Click here to view

Colony Forming Units (CFU/mL) of Streptococcus mutans and socioeconomic status in pregnant and non-pregnant women

The mean colony forming units (CFU/mL) showed a significant increase during the 2nd, 3rd trimester and postpartum period of pregnancy when compared to the control group (P < 0.01). The colony forming units (CFU/mL) in 1st trimester however did not showed any significant difference compared to the control group [Table 4].
Table 4: Streptococcus mutans Colony Forming Units (CFU/mL) in pregnant and non-pregnant women

Click here to view

By using ANOVA test, no statistically significant difference was found in mean CFU/mL with respect to socioeconomic status from 1st trimester to post partum (P-value > 0.05) [Table 5].
Table 5: Socioeconomic status: P in pregnancy and postpartum period with respect to CFU/mL

Click here to view

  Discussion Top

Most of the pregnant women in this study were of middle/lower middle socioeconomic status while others belonged to upper middle or lower/upper lower socioeconomic status. Regarding the educational status, 58% of the pregnant women had completed their high school, 20% had completed their middle school, 8% had completed their graduation while 6% had done diploma course. We did not find any illiterate pregnant woman, which could reflect the growing educational awareness among the rural population. Most pregnant women (46%) were unemployed housewives, 32% were engaged in some unskilled work and the rest (22%) were employed.

The family members of the study group ranged from 3 to 7 with 50% having 5 members. The earners of family were predominantly males with females contributing minimally in the family income. Half of the families of pregnant women had family monthly income ranging from 18,000 to 36,000 rupees. Totally, 22% of pregnant family income ranged from 13,000 to 18,000 rupees, 14% had family income in range of 9000 to 12,000 rupees and 12% had family income in range of 4800 to 8001 rupees.

Pregnancy has several negative effects on the oral cavity environment which includes immune suppression, cravings, hormonal fluctuations, salivary alterations, and other physiological changes that would be expected to adversely affect hosts resistance to caries.[5] Streptococcus mutans could be isolated from saliva of all pregnant women in our study group and had higher than 105 CFU/mL indicating the increased risk for development of dental caries.[7] Other studies have found high levels of Streptococcus mutans in saliva of pregnant study group.[8],[10],[11]

A fairly strong evidence for an inverse relationship between socioeconomic status and the prevalence of caries has been established in adults [12],[13],[14] as well as in pregnant women.[15],[16],[17],[18],[19],[20],[21],[22]

Patients who are pregnant for the first time are considered to be a critical group of at-risk women who may be affected by low health literacy and therefore have poor health knowledge.[23] As socioeconomic status is correlated with oral health, it is generally agreed that people with low socioeconomic status have a significantly worse oral and general health compared to people with higher socio-economic status because of their poor oral hygiene practice, lack of awareness, improper food intake, and family status.[1],[16] Contrary to this general agreement, in our study we found that there was no significant increase in DMFT index in lower/upper lower socioeconomic status pregnant women. Also, the pregnant women of all the socioeconomic status showed significant increase in salivary Streptococcus mutans count in 2nd trimester, 3rd trimester and postpartum period. There was no particular socioeconomic strata which had higher risk for dental caries. The mean CFU/mL of Streptococcus mutans with respect to socioeconomic status had no statistically significant difference between the three socioeconomic classes. The probable explanation to this can be that most of the pregnant women of all socioeconomic status had good educational background; many had completed their high school and had basic knowledge about the maintenance of oral hygiene. It has been noted that poor knowledge amongst pregnant women was independent of the socioeconomic class.[24] Most of the patients had habit of brushing their teeth with help of toothbrush and toothpaste with preference for vegetarian diet, reflecting a changing trend towards practicing good oral hygiene in lower socioeconomic strata of the pregnant women.

  Conclusion Top

From findings of our study it can be deduced that the pregnant women are at higher risk for development of dental caries compared to non-pregnant women. However, contrary to the conventional norm that socioeconomic status influences the oral hygiene practice; our study did not find such correlation. Increase in caries risk factor was noted in all socioeconomic status with no particular class at increased risk. These finding may give us insight into the increasing awareness of oral hygiene practices amongst pregnant women of all socioeconomic strata.

This study emphasizes the need for early establishment of a dental care system for the pregnant women. Implementation of preventive oral health practices provides time critical opportunities to reduce the risk of preventable oral/dental conditions for mother and their children.


We sincerely thank Dr GS Karande, Professor and Head, Department of Microbiology, Krishna Institute of Medical Sciences, Karad, for her immense help for conducting this study.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Meyer K, Khorshidi-Bhom M, Geursten W, Gunay H. An early oral health care program starting during pregnancy-a long term study – phase V. Clin Oral Invest 2014;18:863-72.  Back to cited text no. 1
Oberoi SS, Sharma G, Oberoi A. A cross-sectional survey to assess the effect of socioeconomic status on the oral hygiene habits. J Indian Soc Periodontol 2016;20:531-42.  Back to cited text no. 2
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
Kateeb E, Momany E. Dental caries experience and associated risk indicators among Palestinian pregnant women in the Jerusalem area: A cross-sectional study. BMC Oral Health 2018;18:170.  Back to cited text no. 3
Naveen S, Asha ML, Shubha G, Bajoria AA, Jose AA. Salivary flow rate, pH and buffering capacity in pregnant and non-pregnant women-A comparative study. JMED Res 2014;2014:1-8.  Back to cited text no. 4
Ferraro M, Vieira AR. Explaining gender differences in caries: A multifactorial approach to a multifactorial disease. Int J Dent 2010;2010:649643.  Back to cited text no. 5
Molnar-Varlam C, Molnar-Varlam C, Gabriela B, Tohati A. Risk assessment of caries in Pregnancy. Acta Medica Marisiensis 2011;57:685-9.  Back to cited text no. 6
Oztruk L, Akyuz S, Garan A, Yarat A. Salivary and dental-Oral hygiene parameters in 3rd trimester of pregnancy and early lactation: The effect of education. Marmara Dent J 2013;1:1-8.  Back to cited text no. 7
Merglova V, Hecovaa H, Stehlikovaa J, Chaloupka P. Oral health status of women with high-risk pregnancies. Biomed Pap Med Fac Univ Palacky Olomouc Czech Repub 2012;156:337-41.  Back to cited text no. 8
Al-Jumaily E, Hashim S, Faris T. Isolation and identification of Streptococcus mutans (H5) produced glucosyltransferase and cell-associated glucosyltransferase isolated from dental caries. Int J Curr Microbiol App Sci 2014;3:850-64.  Back to cited text no. 9
Brambilla E, Felloni A, Gagliani M, Malerba A, Garcia-Godoy F, Strohmenger L. Caries prevention during pregnancy: Results of a 30 month study. JADA 1998;129:871-77.  Back to cited text no. 10
Asad R, Khan KA, Javed T, Arshad MB, Chaudhary A, Khan AA. Effect of atraumatic restorative treatment on streptococcus mutans count in saliva of pregnant women: A randomized controlled trial. Ann King Edward Med Univ 2018;24. Available from: https://www.annalskemu.org/journal/index.php/annals/article/view/2679.  Back to cited text no. 11
Rehman MM, Mahmood N, Rehman B. The relationship of caries with oral hygiene status and extra oral risk factors. J Ayub Med Coll 2008;20:103-7.  Back to cited text no. 12
Reisine ST, Psoter W. Socioeconomic status and selected behavioral determinants as risk factors for dental caries. J Dent Edu 2001;65:1009-16.  Back to cited text no. 13
Peres MA, Peres KG, Barros AJ, Victoria CG. The relation between family socioeconomic trajectories from childhood to adolescence and dental caries and associated oral behaviors. J Epidemiol Community Health 2007;61:141-5.  Back to cited text no. 14
Hirimuthugoda L, Chaminda J, Gunasekara N, Samarapala H, Kumari S, Pathirana I, et al. Determinants on dental caries among pregnant mothers in medical officer of health area, Ambalantota, Sri Lanka. Int J Dent Med 2018;4:5-8.  Back to cited text no. 15
Mital P, Amit, Raisingani D, Mital P, Hooja N, Priyanka. Dental caries and gingivitis in pregnant women. Sch J App Med Sci 2013;1:718-23.  Back to cited text no. 16
Sogi G, Baskar DJ. Dental caries and oral hygiene status of 13-14 year old school children of Davangere. J Indian Soc Pedo Prev Dent 2001;19:113-7  Back to cited text no. 17
Patil S, Ranka R, Chaudhary M, Hande A, Sharma P. Prevalence of dental caries and gingivitis among pregnant and nonpregnant women. J Datta Meghe Inst Med Sci Univ 2018;13:44-7.  Back to cited text no. 18
  [Full text]  
Chaitra TR, Wagh S, Sultan S, Chaudhary S, Manuja N, Sinha AA. Knowledge, Attitude and practice of oral health and adverse pregnancy outcomes among rural and urban pregnant women of Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh, India. J Interdiscip Dentistry 2018;8:5-12.  Back to cited text no. 19
  [Full text]  
Maryam A, Khawaja W, Khawaja M. Determination the oral health status among pregnant women. Ann Pak Inst Med Sci 2017;13:330-4.  Back to cited text no. 20
Nogueira BML, Nogueira BCL, Fonseca RRS, Brandão GAM, Menezes TOA, Tembra DPS. Knowledge and attitudes of pregnant women about oral health. Int J Odontostomat 2016;10:297-302.  Back to cited text no. 21
Khalaf SA, Osman SR, Abbas AM, Ismail AMAM. Knowledge, attitude and practice of oral healthcare among pregnant women in Assiut, Egypt. Int J Community Med Public Health 2018;5:890-900.  Back to cited text no. 22
Jacqueline M, Lee J, Divaris K, Baker D, Vann W. Oral health literacy and knowledge among patients who are pregnant for first time. J Am Dent Assoc 2012;143:972-80.  Back to cited text no. 23
Nagi R, Sahu S, Nagaraju R. Oral health, nutritional knowledge, and practices among pregnant women and their awareness relating to adverse pregnancy outcomes. J Indian Acad Oral Med Radiol 2016;28:396-402.  Back to cited text no. 24
  [Full text]  


  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5]


Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
Access Statistics
Email Alert *
Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)

  In this article
   Materials and Me...
   Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded180    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal