Little research has been done to understand the factors that affect the ability and inclination of low-income pregnant women to seek oral health care. This brief offers information obtained both from a review of the limited literature that exists on this topic, as well as from focus group conversations with low-income pregnant women.
Top Level Findings:
- Despite the importance to both the pregnant woman and her developing child of maintaining good oral health during pregnancy, only about 20-50% of pregnant women report going to the dentist when pregnant and only about 29% of pregnant women on Medicaid in Connecticut obtained any dental care during pregnancy in 2005, the last year for which figures are available.
- Women report a number of reasons for not obtaining dental care during pregnancy — some having to do with personal circumstances, but the majority with systemic barriers.
- Improving the utilization of dental care by low income pregnant women should include a combination of:
- reducing barriers to access – lack of dental care providers, cost, transportation, time and child care;
- focusing on patient education, such as addressing women’s concerns about dental procedures during pregnancy;
- improving communication strategies on the part of both obstetrician and dental care clinicians; and
- integrating dental care as part of a total approach to health, including structured referrals and case management.
- Susan Resine, PhD, University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine
- Joanna Douglass, BDS, DDS, University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine, Connecticut Health Foundation Oral Health Consultant