Pregnant Patient Knowledge and Behavior Regarding Perinatal Oral Health

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Abstract

Objective

Perinatal oral health is important to obstetric practice, with significant implications for maternal, fetal, and infant health. This study sought to describe and compare knowledge and behavior related to perinatal oral health in two distinct populations of pregnant women.

Methods

An anonymous 13-question survey was distributed at two patient centers (urban teaching clinics and suburban referral center), examining patient knowledge and behaviors pertaining to oral health. Descriptive statistics were tabulated. Groups were compared using Fisher's exact test for categorical variables, with Bonferroni correction for multiple comparisons.

Results

Total 262 surveys were completed. Suburban patients more often reported “good” oral health and having visited a dentist within 6 months. Both groups had similar misconceptions regarding oral health and pregnancy. Few identified the relationship between poor oral health and adverse pregnancy outcomes. A minority identified routine dental interventions as safe in pregnancy. Many patients practiced risky behaviors that could worsen oral health and increase risk of childhood caries in their progeny.

Conclusion

These data highlight that poor patient knowledge and understanding of perinatal oral health appear to cross demographic boundaries. This presents an opportunity for patient education that may help improve the health status of these individuals and their children.

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