Dental Student Knowledge & Attitudes Regarding Treatment of Pregnant Patients
Objectives: To test dental students’ knowledge and attitudes regarding dental care during pregnancy.
Methods: For this QI project we designed a questionnaire exploring dental care for pregnant women comprising knowledge (10 items) and attitude (3 items) scales. All items were 7-point Likert type. After pilot testing, we administered the questionnaire to dental students attending an outreach/rotation designed to teach evidence-based care for pregnant patients based on the Oral Health Care During Pregnancy: A National Consensus Document (NCD 2012).
Results: We surveyed 37 third-year dental students (47% male, mean age 27.3 +/- 3.8 years). Knowledge: All students stated that prenatal care should include a dental screening and dental care. Most students stated that women should see a dentist during pregnancy (97.3%), that “oral bacteria are transmitted from mother to child” (97.3%), that “a mother’s oral health is related to her child’s oral health” (94.6%) and that “pregnancy exacerbates periodontal pathology” (89.2%). Less than one quarter (21.6%) were un aware of the NCD. While 89.2% stated that “elective care could be provided throughout pregnancy,” 18.9% stated that “women should receive only emergency care,” and 8.1% stated that “dental radiographs during pregnancy are unsafe.” Females were more likely to state that prenatal care should include a dental screening and dental care.Attitudes: While no students stated that they “prefer not to treat pregnant women,” 18.9% stated they “do not feel comfortable treating pregnant women” and 27.0% stated they are “concerned about liability no gender when treating pregnant patients.”
Conclusions: Despite receiving didactic education based on the NCD, some dental students have outdated knowledge regarding the care of pregnant patients, are uncomfortable treating pregnant women, and are concerned about liability. Providing opportunities for dental students to provide dental care for pregnant women may be helpful to reduce discomfort and decrease fears regarding liability.