Background: Little is known about the use of dental services during pregnancy. Yet research suggests that a pregnant woman's oral health and her pregnancy outcome may be associated.
Methods: Four states collected oral health data a part of the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System, or PRAMS, in 1998. PRAMS is an ongoing, population-based survey designed to obtain information from mothers who recently delivered live-born infants about their experiences and behaviors before, during and immediately after pregnancy.
Results: Reports of dental care use during pregnancy ranged from 22.7 to 34.7 percent. In three states, 12.2 percent to 25.4 percent of respondents reported having a dental problem and of these, 44.7 percent to 54.9 percent went for care. Among mothers reporting a dental problem, prenatal care, or PNC, insurance through public funding and late PNC entry were significantly associated with their not getting dental care.
Conclusions: Most mothers did not go for dental care during their pregnancy; among those who reported having problems, one-half did not get dental care.
Practice implications: Attention toward the oral health needs of pregnant women is warranted. A coordinated effort from the dental and obstetric communities to establish guidelines could benefit maternal oral health and perinatal outcomes.