Objectives: The purposes of this study were to investigate factors related to utilization of dental services during pregnancy and to assess the extent of mothers' knowledge regarding oral health during pregnancy and its effect on pregnancy outcomes.
Materials and methods: Cross-sectional data were collected from 625 women using a structured questionnaire mailed to mothers who had given birth in Johnson County, Iowa from August 2001 to March 2002. The survey assessed knowledge, behaviours, attitudes toward dental care during pregnancy, and personal, demographic and pregnancy-related factors. Variables which showed associations in bivariate analysis (p< or =0.1) were considered as candidates for building logistic regression models separately by domain (demographics, dental health care behaviours, lifestyle, financial variables, pregnancy-related variables, and knowledge of the possible association between oral health and pregnancy). Significant domain-specific regression results (p< or =0.05) were used to develop a final model using forward stepwise logistic regression analyses.
Results: The overall response rate was 69%. Dental visits during pregnancy were reported by 49% of respondents. Forty-three percent were aware of the possible connection between oral health and pregnancy outcomes. In the final logistic regression analysis, factors significantly associated with reporting dental visits during pregnancy were: (1) personal factors (being married, greater frequency of visiting the dentist when not pregnant and use of inter-proximal cleaning aids); (2) financial factors (dental insurance); and (3) knowledge of the possible connection between oral health and pregnancy outcomes.
Conclusions: There was limited knowledge of the possible relationships between oral health and pregnancy outcomes in a fairly homogeneous population of women who were of relatively high socioeconomic standing. This study suggests that better education of the importance of dental care before and during pregnancy is needed.