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

J Public Health Dent. 2012 Fall;72(4):279-86. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-7325.2012.00333.x. Epub 2012 Apr 16.


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.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Dental Assistants / psychology
  • Dental Care / psychology*
  • Dental Hygienists / psychology*
  • Dental Staff / psychology
  • Dentists / psychology*
  • Diffusion of Innovation
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Guideline Adherence
  • Health Education, Dental*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Needs Assessment
  • Oral Health*
  • Oregon
  • Pregnancy*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Statistics, Nonparametric