The purpose of the study was to understand US dentists’ attitudes, knowledge, and practices regarding dental care for pregnant women and to determine the impact of recent papers on oral health and pregnancy and guidelines disseminated widely.
In 2006–2007, the investigators conducted a mailed survey of all 1,604 general dentists in Oregon; 55.2% responded). Structural equation modeling was used to estimate associations between dentists’ attitudes toward providing care to pregnant women, dentists’ knowledge about the safety of dental procedures, and dentists’ current practice patterns.
Dentist’s perceived barriers have the strongest direct effect on current practice and might be the most important factor deterring dentists from providing care to pregnant patients. Five attitudes (perceived barriers) were associated with providing less dental services: time, economic, skills, dental staff resistance, and peer pressure. The final model shows a good fit with a chi-square of 38.286 (p = .12, n=772, df = 52) and a Bentler-Bonett Normed Fit index of .98, CFI = .993. The Root Mean Square Error of Approximation is .02.
Findings suggest attitudes are significant determinants of accurate knowledge and current practice. Multi-dimensional approaches are needed to increase access to dental care and protect the oral health of women during pregnancy. Despite current clinical recommendations to deliver all necessary care to pregnant patients during 1st, 2nd, and 3rd trimesters, dentists’ knowledge of the appropriateness of procedures continues to lag the state of the art in dental science.