How Do Dental and Prenatal Care Practitioners Perceive Dental Care During Pregnancy? Current Evidence and Implications
Address correspondence to Dr. Ajesh George, BDS, MPH, PhD, Centre for Applied Nursing Research, South Western Sydney Local Health District/ University of Western Sydney/, Liverpool BC, Locked Bag 7103, NSW 1871, Australia.
Poor maternal oral health may be associated with adverse pregnancy and infant outcomes. However, women seldom seek dental care during pregnancy, and misconceptions by prenatal care practitioners about oral health care during pregnancy may contribute to the problem. The aim of this study was to review current knowledge, attitudes, and behavior of dental and prenatal care practitioners about oral health care during pregnancy.
This review examined all studies published in English that explored the knowledge, attitude, behavior, and barriers faced by dentists, general practitioners, midwives, and obstetricians/gynecologists with respect to oral health care during pregnancy.
Despite acknowledging the importance of maternal oral health, many dentists are uncertain about the safety of dental procedures and are hesitant in treating pregnant women. General practitioners and midwives are poorly informed about the impact of poor maternal oral health and rarely initiate this topic during prenatal care. Many general practitioners also believe that dental procedures are unsafe during pregnancy. Obstetricians/gynecologists are well informed about perinatal oral health and are supportive of dental procedures, but because of lack of training in this area and competing health demands they seldom focus on oral health care during their prenatal care.
No real consensus exists among dentists and prenatal care practitioners with respect to oral health care during pregnancy. This issue poses a significant deterrent for pregnant women seeking dental care. Practice guidelines in perinatal oral health are needed for health professionals to emphasize this important aspect of prenatal care. (BIRTH 39:3 September 2012)