UMMS Affiliation

Department of Family Medicine and Community Health

Faculty Mentor

Hugh Silk, Judith Savageau

Publication Date


Document Type



Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Dentistry | Maternal and Child Health | Medical Education | Obstetrics and Gynecology | Women's Health


Background: Pregnant women represent a special population within oral health care. Adverse pregnancy outcomes and increased infant caries can occur when prenatal oral disease is not addressed. Currently, medical and dental clinicians are not meeting the oral health needs of pregnant patients.

Objective: Medical and dental providers are not addressing prenatal oral health (POH) with patients despite knowledge of the risks. The objective of this study was to determine how training in dental schools and OB/Gyn residencies may contribute to this paradox.

Methods: We conducted a national survey of 60 dental school deans and 240 obstetrics and gynecology residency program directors. Questions assessed the number of hours of POH education, topics addressed, awareness of guidelines, and barriers to including more POH training.

Results: Response rates were 53% and 40% for dental schools and OB/Gyn residencies, respectively. 94% of dental schools provide some POH education, with 61% of schools offering 3+ hours. Only 39% of OB/Gyn residencies provide some POH education, most only 1-2 hours. 65% of dental programs and 45% of OB/Gyn residencies are aware of current POH evidence-based guidelines. Those OB/Gyn residency programs with POH training were three times as likely to expose their residents to these guidelines. A similar trend was observed for dental schools. Barriers to POH education include space in the curriculum and competing clinical priorities. 76% of OB/Gyn directors affirmed the importance of addressing oral health needs among prenatal patients; however, only 23% agreed that the ACGME should add POH competencies. The majority of respondents agreed they would add more POH education if the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology issued a policy statement or practice bulletin.

Conclusions: The majority of dental schools teach POH but clinical exposure is limited. Less than half of OB/Gyn residencies include POH training. Future efforts should include distribution of POH guidelines/consensus statements to educators and learners, increasing exposure of dental students to pregnant patients, and developing faculty expertise in residencies.


Oral Health, Prenatal Care, Education, Medical, Graduate, Internship and Residency, Obstetrics, Gynecology, Education, Dental

Rights and Permissions

Copyright is held by the author(s), with all rights reserved.

DOI of Published Version


Journal/Book/Conference Title

Senior Scholars Program


Medical student Megan Weeks participated in this study as part of the Senior Scholars research program at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

This poster earned top honors at the 2013 Senior Scholars Presentation Day.