JOURNAL ARTICLE

Providing dental care to pregnant patients: a survey of Oregon general dentists

Colleen E Huebner, Peter Milgrom, Douglas Conrad, Rosanna Shuk Yin Lee
Journal of the American Dental Association 2009, 140 (2): 211-22
19188418

BACKGROUND: A growing number of studies and reports indicate preventive, routine and emergency dental procedures can be provided safely to pregnant patients to alleviate dental problems and promote oral health of mothers and children.

METHODS: In 2006 and 2007, the authors conducted a survey of 1,604 general dentists in Oregon. The survey asked dentists about their attitudes, beliefs and practices regarding dental care for pregnant patients. The authors compared the responses with 2006 guidelines from a New York State Department of Health expert panel.

RESULTS: The response rate was 55.2 percent. Most respondents (91.7 percent) agreed that dental treatment should be part of prenatal care. Two-thirds of respondents (67.7 percent) were interested in receiving continuing dental education (CDE) regarding the care of pregnant patients. Comparisons of self-reported knowledge and practice with the aforementioned guidelines revealed several points of difference; the greatest regarded obtaining full-mouth radiographs, providing nitrous oxide, administering long-acting anesthetic injections and use of over-the-counter pain medications.

CONCLUSIONS: Dentists need pregnancy-specific education to provide up-to-date preventive and curative care to pregnant patients. The results of the study identified specific skills and misinformation that could be addressed through CDE.

CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: Comprehensive dental care provided during pregnancy is needed to ensure the oral health of all women at risk of experiencing pregnancy-specific problems, as well as the prevention of early childhood caries.

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