Beyond Boundaries: OB and Oral Health, Impact on Patient Care

Mayberry, Melanie E., B Gonik, and R Trombly

Background

Studies indicate a link to oral disease and adverse pregnancy outcomes. Despite national recommendations, many dentists’ are reluctant to treat pregnant patients, a self-imposed boundary. Dentists play a significant role in whether pregnant patients receive dental treatment. Disrupting traditional boundaries of care and evolution of knowledge, attitudes, and practice begins in dental education.

Objectives

To improve dental students’ knowledge regarding the impact of poor oral health on pregnancy, comfort level, and likelihood of treating pregnant patients in their practice after graduating from dental school.

To promote oral health awareness among pregnant patients and to create opportunities for patients to receive dental treatment.

Methods

Through the collaboration of WSU Medical School and UDM School of Dentistry, UDM developed its first Oral Health Pregnancy Day Event (OHPDE). Students were educated on the impact of poor oral health on pregnancy and birth outcomes. Dental faculty and an Obstetrics care provider were present. Supervised by faculty, dental students treated OB patients. Patients were educated on the importance of oral health for them and their baby and the negative impact of poor oral health on pregnancy and birth outcomes.

Results

Thirty-eight dental student providers participated. Participants indicated the following: 85% learned how poor oral health negatively impacts pregnancy and birth outcomes, 63%were comfortable treating pregnant patients compared to 87% post event, 79% agree that as a result of the event they are more likely to treat pregnant patients in their practice after graduating from dental school.

One hundred sixty OB patients received perinatal oral health education in the OB patient care wing. Thirty-four presented to the dental clinic for the OHPDE. As a result of the OHPDE 88% indicated “It taught me that oral health is important for me and my pregnancy”, 94% “I will more likely take care of my oral health.” 91% “I will more likely take care of my baby’s oral health.”

Conclusions

This program pushed the boundaries of clinical education and practice. All objectives were met. It may assist other institutions to develop similar initiatives. Funded by the Detroit Medical Center Foundation, grant # 2015-0098.