Oral health in pregnancy: educational needs of dental professionals and office staff

Authors

  • Megan K. Kloetzel MD, MPH,

    1. Department of Preventive Medicine, Madigan Healthcare System, Tacoma, WA
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  • Colleen E. Huebner PhD, MPH,

    1. Department of Health Services, University of Washington School of Public Health, Seattle, WA
    2. Northwest Center to Reduce Oral Health Disparities, University of Washington School of Dentistry, Seattle, WA
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  • Peter Milgrom DDS,

    Corresponding author
    1. Northwest Center to Reduce Oral Health Disparities, University of Washington School of Dentistry, Seattle, WA
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  • Christopher T. Littell DO, MPH,

    1. Department of Preventive Medicine, Madigan Healthcare System, Tacoma, WA
    2. Department of Epidemiology, University of Washington School of Public Health, Seattle, WA
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  • Hafsteinn Eggertsson DDS, MSD, PhD

    1. Willamette Dental Group, Hillsboro, OR
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  • Note: The views expressed in this manuscript are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of Madigan Healthcare System, the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.

Dr. Peter Milgrom, Northwest Center to Reduce Oral Health Disparities, B-509 Health Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle WA 98195. Tel.: 206-685-4183; Fax: 206-685-4258; e-mail: dfrc@u.washington.edu. Peter Milgrom is with the Northwest Center to Reduce Oral Health Disparities, University of Washington School of Dentistry. Megan K. Kloetzel is with the Department of Preventive Medicine, Madigan Healthcare System. Colleen E. Huebner is with the Department of Health Services, University of Washington School of Public Health and Northwest Center to Reduce Oral Health Disparities, University of Washington School of Dentistry. Christopher T. Littell is with the Madigan Healthcare System and the Department of Epidemiology, University of Washington School of Public Health. Hafsteinn Eggertssonis is with the Willamette Dental Group.

Abstract

Objective: Dental care during pregnancy is important for pregnant women and their children. Comprehensive guidelines for the provision of dental services for pregnant patients were published in 2006, but there is relatively little information about their use in actual practice. The aim of this study was to examine differences in knowledge and attitudes regarding dental care in pregnancy among dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants, and nonclinical office staff. A secondary aim was to identify sources of influence on attitudes and knowledge regarding the guidelines.

Methods: A survey was used to collect information from 766 employees of a Dental Care Organization based in Oregon; responses from 546 were included in the analyses reported here.

Results: Statistically significant differences in knowledge were found among the professional-role groups. Dentists and hygienists consistently answered more items correctly than did other respondents. Within all professional-role groups, knowledge gaps existed and were most pronounced regarding provision of routine and emergency services. Positive perceptions of providing dental care during pregnancy were associated with higher knowledge scores (z = 4.16, P < 0.001).

Conclusions: Updated dental education and continuing education for all dental office personnel are needed to promote the diffusion of current evidence-based guidelines for dental care during pregnancy.

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