Racial and oral health disparity associated with perinatal oral health care utilization among underserved US pregnant women.Quintessence Int. 2022 Oct 21; 53(10):892-902.QI
The study aims to identify specific determinants of dental care utilization during the perinatal period (prenatal and 1-year postnatal) among underserved US women residing in Upstate New York.
METHOD AND MATERIALS
The prospective cohort study included 186 low-income US pregnant women. Demographic-socioeconomic parameters and medical-dental conditions were obtained from questionnaires, electronic medical-dental records, and dental examinations. Multivariate regression analyses were used to assess factors associated with perinatal dental care utilization. As an exploratory effort, a separate logistic model assessed factors associated with adverse birth outcomes.
The results demonstrated unmet oral health needs among the underserved US pregnant women residing in Upstate New York. Despite an average of 2.7 ± 3.6 untreated decayed teeth per person during pregnancy, only 39.3% and 19.9% utilized prenatal and 1-year postnatal dental care, respectively. Previous dental care utilization was a notable factor contributing to a higher uptake of perinatal dental care at a subsequent period. Prenatal dental care utilization was significantly lower among African American women (odds ratio 0.43 [95% CI 0.19, 0.98], P = .04) and positively associated with dental caries severity (OR 2.40 [1.09, 5.12], P = .03). Postnatal utilization was associated with caries severity (OR 4.70 [1.73, 12.74], P = .002) and prevalent medical conditions (hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and emotional conditions). Pregnant women who achieved prenatal caries-free status had a lower odds of experiencing adverse birth outcomes; however, this was an insignificant finding due to limited adverse birth cases.
Racial and oral health disparity is associated with perinatal oral health care utilization among underserved US pregnant women in New York. While both prenatal and postnatal dental care utilization was positively associated with oral health status, specifically, postnatal utilization was driven by existing medical conditions such as emotional condition, hypertension, and diabetes mellitus. The results add to existing information on inherent barriers and postulated needs to improve access to perinatal oral care, thereby informing statewide recommendations to maximize utilization. Considering this is a geographically restricted population, the findings are particularly true to this cohort of underserved pregnant women. However, future more robust studies are warranted to assess effective strategies to further improve perinatal dental care utilization among underserved pregnant women.