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Oral Health Conditions and Dental Visits Among Pregnant and Nonpregnant Women of Childbearing Age in the United States, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999–2004
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    Introduction

    Oral diseases can be prevented or improved with regular dental visits. Our objective was to assess and compare national estimates on self-reported oral health conditions and dental visits among pregnant women and nonpregnant women of childbearing age by using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

    Methods

    We analyzed self-reported oral health information on 897 pregnant women and 3,971 nonpregnant women of childbearing age (15–44 years) from NHANES 1999–2004. We used χ2 and 2-sample t tests to assess statistical differences between groups stratified by age, race/ethnicity, poverty, and education. We applied the Bonferroni adjustment for multiple comparisons.

    Results

    Our data show significant differences in self-reported oral health conditions and dental visits among women, regardless of pregnancy status, when stratified by selected sociodemographic characteristics. Significant differences were also found in self-reported oral health conditions and dental visits between pregnant and nonpregnant women, especially among young women, women from minority race/ethnicity groups, and women with less than high school education.

    Conclusion

    We found disparities in self-reported oral health conditions and use of dental services among women regardless of pregnancy status. Results highlight the need to improve dental service use among US women of childbearing age, especially young pregnant women, those who are non-Hispanic black or Mexican American, and those with low family income or low education level. Prenatal visits could be used as an opportunity to encourage pregnant women to seek preventive dental care during pregnancy.

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