Prenatal oral health (POH) is an important health issue, but dental and obstetrical clinicians are not meeting the oral health needs of pregnant patients. This study evaluates how training contributes to this paradox with a national survey of sixty dental school deans and 240 obstetrics and gynecology residency program directors. Response rates were 53 percent and 40 percent for deans and program directors, respectively. According to the respondents, 94 percent of responding dental schools provided POH education, only 39 percent of responding residencies taught POH, and 65 percent of responding deans and 45 percent of responding program directors were aware of current POH guidelines. The residencies exposing trainees to guidelines were three times more likely to have POH training. Barriers to POH education were reported to include too few pregnant patients in clinical settings (for responding dental schools) and lack of faculty expertise (for responding residencies). The majority of responding deans and program directors agreed they would add more POH education if the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists issued a policy statement or practice bulletin. The majority of responding dental deans reported teaching POH in their schools, but clinical exposure was limited; less than half of responding residencies included POH training. Future efforts should include distribution of POH guidelines/consensus statements to educators and learners, increasing exposure of dental students to pregnant patients, and developing faculty expertise in residencies.
Keywords: dental education; obstetrics and gynecology; oral health; oral health education; pregnancy; women’s health.