Obstetric provider approach to perinatal oral health.

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To examine the practices and attitudes of obstetric providers in the state of Michigan on their approach to perinatal oral health.

METHODS

An online survey was distributed using health care provider databases in the state of Michigan. Descriptive statistics were tabulated and Fisher's Exact Test was used for categorical variables.

RESULTS

There were 146 respondents, 80 obstetrician-gynecologist (OB/GYN) and 66 certified nurse midwife (CNM) providers. Eighty percent acknowledged that perinatal oral health is an important consideration for optimal prenatal care, while only 53% reported having questions specific to oral health on their intake documents. Only 35% discussed oral health, 29% performed an oral cavity exam and 42% recommended oral health assessment by a dentist. CNMs were more likely than OB/GYNs to discuss the importance of oral health (48% versus 24%, (p <.05)) and recommend a formal dental assessment (61% versus 26% (p<.05)). These findings demonstrate a dichotomy of care in that obstetric providers recognize the importance of oral health care in pregnancy, but only a minority routinely incorporates these surveillance practices.

CONCLUSION

These data highlight a gap in obstetric services that needs attention through specific educational initiatives and further research endeavors that address health care provider practice and patient barriers.

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