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Public Health Rep. 2010 Nov-Dec;125(6):831-42.

Most pregnant women in California do not receive dental care: findings from a population-based study.

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Center on Social Disparities in Health, Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, 3333 California St., Ste. 365, Box 0943, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA.



We examined the prevalence of dental care during pregnancy and reasons for lack of care.


Using a population-based survey of 21,732 postpartum women in California during 2002-2007, we calculated prevalence of dental problems, receipt of care, and reasons for non-receipt of care. We used logistic regression to estimate odds of non-receipt of care by maternal characteristics.


Overall, 65% of women had no dental visit during pregnancy; 52% reported a dental problem prenatally, with 62% of those women not receiving care. After adjustment, factors associated with non-receipt of care included non-European American race/ethnicity, lack of a college degree, lack of private prenatal insurance, no first-trimester prenatal insurance coverage, lower income, language other than English spoken at home, and no usual source of pre-pregnancy medical care. The primary reason stated for non-receipt of dental care was lack of perceived need, followed by financial barriers.


Most pregnant women in this study received insufficient dental care. Odds were elevated not only among the poorest, least educated mothers, but also among those with moderate incomes or some college education. The need for dental care during pregnancy must be promoted widely among both the public and providers, and financial barriers to dental care should be addressed.

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