Background: Although disability has associations with poor health and reduced access to health care services, limited research exists on the connection between disability, oral health, and oral health care use. Moreover, to the authors' knowledge, no study has examined the association between disability and oral health around the time of pregnancy. This is an important gap in research, considering that both disability and oral health play a critical role in maternal and infant well-being.
Methods: The authors obtained cross-sectional data from 15 states from 2019 and 2020 from the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (N = 20,189). The authors used multivariable logistic regression analyses to assess the relationship between cumulative disabilities and specific forms of disability (seeing, hearing, walking, remembering, self-care, and communicating) for 6 indicators of oral health experiences during pregnancy.
Results: Women reporting multiple forms of disabilities around the time of pregnancy (especially ≥ 3 disabilities) reported lower levels of knowledge of appropriate oral health care during pregnancy, were less likely to undergo dental prophylaxis during pregnancy, were more likely to report needing care for dental health problems, and had more unmet oral health care needs than those without disabilities.
Conclusions: Maternal disability is a risk factor for poorer oral health outcomes and oral health care use during pregnancy.
Practical implications: Given the potential harms of poor oral health to maternal and infant well-being, the findings of this study suggest the need for increased health promotion efforts to foster improved oral health for pregnant women living with disabilities.
Keywords: Oral health; PRAMS; disability; pregnancy; women’s health.
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