Perinatal Oral Health: A Novel Collaborative Initiative to Improve Access, Attitudes, Comfort Level, and Knowledge of Pregnant Women and Dental Providers
Despite national recommendations, many U.S.A. dentists’ are reluctant to treat pregnant patients. Disrupting care barriers and evolution of practice begins in education and through collaboration. The objectives of this program were to increase access to dental care and promote oral health education among pregnant women, improve dental student’s exposure and comfort level, increase the likelihood of treating pregnant women, and improve knowledge of the potential impact of poor oral health on pregnancy outcomes.
Through collaborative efforts, University of Detroit Mercy (UDM) School of Dentistry and Wayne State University (WSU) Medical School, the Oral Health Pregnancy Day Initiative (OHPDI) was developed. Dental students were educated on the impact poor oral health may have on pregnancy outcomes and the importance of access to care. Pregnant women were educated on the importance of oral health and the negative impact poor oral health may have on pregnancy and birth outcomes and received needed dental care.
Thirty-four pregnant women presented for the OHPDI. Thirty-nine dental students participated. 85% of students reported they learned how poor oral health could potentially have a negative impact on pregnancy and birth outcomes, 87% were comfortable treating pregnant women compared to 63% pre event, 79% agreed as a result of the event they were more likely to treat pregnant women. 94% of pregnant women reported not having a dentist and 100% received perinatal oral health education. This initiative resulted in increased students’ knowledge, exposure, attitudes, and comfort level to treating pregnant women and pregnant women received needed oral health care education and dental treatment.