Dental caries experience and associated risk indicators among Palestinian pregnant women in the Jerusalem area: a crosssectional study
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Background: This study described the dental caries experience of Palestinian pregnant women and examined its relationships to their oral health knowledge, beliefs, behavior, and access to dental care. Methods: Pregnant women receiving prenatal care at the Ministry of Health (MOH) centers in the Jerusalem Governorate were invited to participate in this study. Structured interviews were conducted to assess pregnant mothers’ beliefs about oral health care and their oral hygiene practices. Screening for mothers’ dental caries experience was carried out using the Decayed, Missing and Filled Teeth/Surfaces (DMFT/S) index. Univariate, bi-variate and multi-variable analysis were conducted to explain the high level of disease in this population. Results: A total of 152 pregnant women participated in this study. Mean DMFT in this sample was 15.5 ± 4.5 and an average DMFS of 31.8 ± 21. According the World Health Organization (WHO) criteria, 89% of our sample were categorized in the “Extremely High” dental caries experience. Fifty-eight percent of the DMFT scores among this sample were due to untreated dental decay, while 22% of the same DMFT scores demonstrated restorative care received by this sample. Bivariate analysis showed that mothers who completed a degree after high school had lower DMFT scores than mothers who did not (F = 4, n = 152, p = .024). In addition, mothers who believed they could lose a tooth just because they are pregnant had higher DMFT scores (t = − 4, n = 152, p = .037). The final model found that age, level of education, providers’ advice on utilizing dental care during pregnancy, and the belief that a woman can lose a tooth just because she is pregnant explained 22% of the variation in DMFT scores. Conclusions: Women in this study had a high prevalence of dental diseases and knew little about dental care during pregnancy. Faulty beliefs about dental care during pregnancy among women and health care providers were major factors in the high levels of disease.