Dental Public Health Activities: Descriptive Summaries
Prenatal Oral Health Program (pOHP)
Though it is well established that there is a relationship between maternal and child oral health, and between periodontal disease and pre-term labor, low birth weight, and various systemic conditions, many pregnant women lack adequate access to dental care. A lack of prenatal oral health training in dental and medical education programs exacerbates this public health issue. The Prenatal Oral Health Program (pOHP) began as a public health initiative to improve access to oral health care for pregnant women, while simultaneously promoting comprehensive prenatal oral health training in dental and medical schools.
Dental students at the University of North Carolina (UNC) undergo pOHP training during their 3rd year. They participate in an orientation, followed by clinical rotations in which they assess and treat pregnant women. Medical students at UNC are also provided with pOHP training and are taught to provide oral screenings. Medical providers in the community participate by providing oral screenings to pregnant patients and referring them for dental treatment when necessary.
Though this program exists primarily at UNC, it is well adapted for use at other locations. Further, it represents a model that may be applied to other clinical programs. The pOHP patients are cared for at UNC similarly to other patients in the school and therefore the program is sustained with minimal additional costs related to management, training, and advertising for the program. The pOHP has enhanced student prenatal oral health knowledge and behaviors and has demonstrated that oral screenings by medical students can result in a greater likelihood of dental referrals for pregnant women.
Recent studies evaluating the pOHP have demonstrated that it is most effective when integrated into the general dentistry clinic and implemented early in the dental curriculum with various interprofessional experiences to reinforce ideas and concepts. The largest barrier to pOHP implementation has been a high no-show rate with this patient population.
Observational analysis of the program has demonstrated that this particular program functions best when integrated into the general dentistry clinic, provided early in the DDS curriculum, managed by a PCC, and supplemented with interprofessional experiences. The greatest barrier, as mentioned early, has been the low number of referred pOHP patients who show up for their appointments. This is a constant challenge that the pOHP team continues to address and hopes to conquer, keeping in mind that a main goal of pOHP is to provide all dental students with at least one prenatal clinical experience. Support from faculty is also important for the pOHP to be as effective as possible and may require more faculty calibration than originally thought. Calibration is necessary to ensure all faculty are teaching the same pOHP values and that the structure and flow of each pOHP appointment is the same.
Contact Person(s) for Inquiries:
Brittney Ciszek, PhD, Dental Student (DDS4), The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Dentistry, CB #7450, School of Dentistry, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, 27599-7450, Phone: 919-537-3253, Email; Brittney_ciszek@unc.edu
Rocio Quinonez, DMD, MS, MPH/Jane Weintraub, DDS, MPH Associate Dean for Educational Leadership and Innovation, Alumni Distinguished Professor of Dental Public Health (respectively), The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Dentistry, CB #7450, School of Dentistry, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, 27599-7450, Phone: 919-537-3253, Email: Rocio_quinonez@unc.edu; firstname.lastname@example.org