How do dental and prenatal care practitioners perceive dental care during pregnancy? Current evidence and implications

Birth. 2012 Sep;39(3):238-47. doi: 10.1111/j.1523-536X.2012.00553.x. Epub 2012 Jun 27.


Background: Poor maternal oral health may be associated with adverse pregnancy and infant outcomes. However, women seldom seek dental care during pregnancy, and misconceptions by prenatal care practitioners about oral health care during pregnancy may contribute to the problem. The aim of this study was to review current knowledge, attitudes, and behavior of dental and prenatal care practitioners about oral health care during pregnancy.

Methods: This review examined all studies published in English that explored the knowledge, attitude, behavior, and barriers faced by dentists, general practitioners, midwives, and obstetricians/gynecologists with respect to oral health care during pregnancy.

Results: Despite acknowledging the importance of maternal oral health, many dentists are uncertain about the safety of dental procedures and are hesitant in treating pregnant women. General practitioners and midwives are poorly informed about the impact of poor maternal oral health and rarely initiate this topic during prenatal care. Many general practitioners also believe that dental procedures are unsafe during pregnancy. Obstetricians/gynecologists are well informed about perinatal oral health and are supportive of dental procedures, but because of lack of training in this area and competing health demands they seldom focus on oral health care during their prenatal care.

Conclusion: No real consensus exists among dentists and prenatal care practitioners with respect to oral health care during pregnancy. This issue poses a significant deterrent for pregnant women seeking dental care. Practice guidelines in perinatal oral health are needed for health professionals to emphasize this important aspect of prenatal care.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Clinical Competence / standards
  • Dental Care* / methods
  • Dental Care* / psychology
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Oral Health / education*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / prevention & control*
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Pregnant Women / psychology
  • Prenatal Care* / methods
  • Prenatal Care* / psychology
  • Quality Improvement