Objectives: The purpose of this study was to examine the mechanisms by which oral health knowledge was associated with oral health perceptions and behaviors during pregnancy, and to evaluate whether or not these associations varied depending on insurance coverage (private, Medicaid, self-pay), education or income levels.
Methods: While waiting for their regularly scheduled appointment at a public, university-affiliated prenatal care center, 243 socioeconomically diverse pregnant women completed an anonymous questionnaire and received oral hygiene supplies.
Results: Greater oral health knowledge was associated with increased feelings of control over oral health, more favorable perceptions of one’s own oral health, and less time since the one’s last dental visit. However, the latter two associations were mediated by self-efficacy. That is, oral health knowledge was indirectly associated with oral health perceptions and practices via self-efficacy. In addition, these associations were moderated by insurance type, education and income levels.
Conclusion: These results suggest that oral health knowledge influences perceptions and practices through its association with self-efficacy for some women. Efforts to educate pregnant women should be targeted to particular groups and include specific steps that women can take to improve their oral health during pregnancy that may empower women to take control of their oral health and increase their confidence about their ability to do so.
Keywords: Oral hygiene, Pregnancy and Utilization/demand
See more of: Behavioral, Epidemiologic, and Health Services Research