Dental care for pregnant women: an assessment of North Carolina general dentists

Elizabeth Prada Da Costa, Jessica Y Lee, R Gary Rozier, Leslie Zeldin
Journal of the American Dental Association 2010, 141 (8): 986-94

BACKGROUND: The authors conducted a study to examine factors associated with general dentists' provision of care for pregnant women and the extent to which they provide comprehensive dental care.

METHODS: The authors mailed an 86-item questionnaire to 1,000 practicing general dentists in North Carolina. Survey domains included provider knowledge about pregnancy and dental health, dental treatment practices, barriers to providing care, outcome expectancy, and personal and practice demographics. The primary dependent variables the authors analyzed were whether dentists provided any treatment to pregnant women and, among those who did, the extent to which they provided comprehensive services. The authors performed multivariate regression analyses to determine factors associated with dentists' provision of care to pregnant women (P < .05).

RESULTS: A total of 513 surveys were returned (a response rate of 51.3 percent), of which 495 surveys had complete responses. The authors included the completed surveys in their analyses. The mean age of the respondents was 46 years. The results of multivariate analysis showed that respondents who perceived a lack of demand for services among pregnant women and provided preconception counseling were less likely to provide any treatment for pregnant patients than were those who perceived a demand for services and who did not provide preconception counseling, respectively. Dentists who were male, had a low knowledge score, provided preconception counseling and treated largely white populations of patients were less likely than female dentists, those who had moderate or high knowledge scores, and those who treated a population of minority patients to provide comprehensive care for pregnant women.

CONCLUSIONS: Most general dentists in private practice provide care for pregnant women, but the authors found notable gaps in dental provider knowledge and comprehensive dental services available for pregnant women.

CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: Although many general dentists provide some dental care to pregnant women, more should be done to ensure that this care is comprehensive.

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