BACKGROUND: Daily oral hygiene and regular dental visits are important components of oral health care. The authors’ objective in this study was to examine women’s oral hygiene practices and use of dental services during pregnancy.
METHODS: The authors developed a written oral health questionnaire and administered it to 599 pregnant women. They collected demographic information, as well as data on oral hygiene practices and use of dental services during pregnancy. They used chi2 and multivariable logistic regression models to assess associations between oral hygiene practice and dental service use during pregnancy and to identify maternal predictor variables.
RESULTS: Of the 599 participants, 83 percent (n=497) reported brushing once or twice per day. Twenty-four percent (n=141) reported flossing at least once daily; Hispanic women were more likely to floss than were white or African American women (28 percent [52 of 183] versus 22 percent [54 of 248] versus 19 percent [23 of 121], respectively, P<.001). Seventy-four percent (n=442) of the participants reported having received no routine dental care during pregnancy. Hispanic women were significantly less likely than were black or white women to receive routine dental care during pregnancy (13 percent versus 21 percent versus 36 percent, respectively, P<.001). The authors found that being older than 36 years, being of Hispanic race or ethnicity, having an annual income of less than $30,000, flossing infrequently and receiving no dental care when not pregnant were significantly associated with lack of routine dental care during pregnancy (adjusted odds ratios, 95 percent confidence intervals: 2.56 [1.33-4.92]; 2.19 [1.11-4.29]; 2.02 [1.12-3.65]; 1.86 [1.13-3.07]; and 4.35 [2.5-7.69], respectively). A woman’s lack of receiving routine dental care when not pregnant was the most significant predictor of lack of receiving dental care during pregnancy.
CONCLUSION: Racial, ethnic and economic disparities related to oral hygiene practices and dental service utilization during pregnancy exist.
CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: Medical and dental care providers who treat women of reproductive age and pregnant women need to develop policy strategies to address this population’s access barriers to, and use of, dental care services.