Objectives Limited information exists on the extent oral health is addressed in the context of prenatal care. This study sought to investigate characteristics of primary care physicians (PCP) who provide oral health counseling to pregnant women. Methods The study relied upon data from the 2013 Survey of PCP on Oral Health. Provision of oral health counseling to pregnant women (sometimes vs. rarely/never) was the primary outcome. Covariates included respondents’ demographic and practice characteristics, oral health-related training, knowledge, attitudes, preparedness and clinical behaviors. The analytical strategy included bivariate tests and multivariable Poisson regression modeling, accounting for the survey design; inference was based upon marginal effects estimation. Results Two-thirds of PCP (233 out of 366 respondents) reported providing oral health counseling to pregnant women. In bivariate comparisons, female PCP, PCP with oral health-specific instruction during medical training, favorable oral health-related attitudes, behaviors, preparedness, and knowledge were more likely to provide counseling (p < 0.05). Multivariable analyses confirmed the independent associations of female gender [marginal effect = + 9.7 percentage points (p.p.); 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.0–19.0], years in practice (− 0.4 p.p. for each added year; 95% CI = − 0.09 to 0.0), oral health continuing education (+ 13.2 p.p.; 95% CI = 2.6–23.8), preparedness (+ 23.0 p.p.; 95% CI = 16.9–29.0) and oral health counseling of adult patients with other conditions (+ 8.8 p.p.; 95% CI = 4.6–13.3) with prenatal oral health counseling. Conclusions for Practice A considerable proportion of PCP nationwide counsel pregnant patients on oral health. Provider attributes including education and preparedness appear as promising targets for interventions aimed to enhance pregnant women’s oral health and care.