Objective: To compare the opinions of dentists, obstetricians, and patients on dental care in pregnancy: its necessity, accessibility, and safety.
Methods: A 35-item questionnaire was distributed within Ohio, to 400 patients and 1000 providers between October 2004 and July 2005. Univariate comparisons between dentists and obstetricians were made by Fisher's exact test. Adjustments for confounding were made through logistic regression models.
Results: Most providers rated prenatal dental screening as important, agreeing that poor dental hygiene related to adverse pregnancy outcomes. Although 84% of patients reported dental visits as safe, only 44% received care; the main limitation was financial. Providers agreed that pregnant patients could undergo dental cleanings, caries treatments, and abscess drainage but disagreed regarding the safety of X-rays, periodontal surgery, amalgam, and narcotic usage. In general, obstetricians were more comfortable than dentists with procedures and medication usage but less often reported recommending routine prenatal dental care.
Conclusions: Different respondent perceptions exist regarding the safety, accessibility, and necessity of prenatal dental treatments. Professional guidelines about oral health screening in pregnancy and the safety of dental procedures would benefit our patients and colleagues.