Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



School of Dentistry


Not Listed

Committee Chair

Alcinda Trickett-Shockey

Committee Member

R. Constance Wiener

Committee Member

Ashlee Sowards


Background: Adverse pregnancy outcomes have become a concern for dental professionals caring for pregnant women with poor oral health. Pregnant women may not be aware of their increased risk of bacterial infections in their oral tissues and how it could relate to adverse pregnancy outcomes such as pre- term birth (PTB) and low birthweight babies (LBW). Dental healthcare professionals need to be well informed of risk related to poor oral health and have confidence to effectively educate pregnant women. PTB and LBW babies account for 1 million infant deaths annually. It is the responsibility of dental healthcare professionals to be well informed of risks associated with periodontal disease to adequately educate pregnant patients.

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to assess licensed West Virginia dental hygienists’ knowledge and educational approaches for pregnant women to determine if there is a need for continuing education (CE) course(s) related to educating pregnant women about oral healthcare during pregnancy.

Methods: A survey was provided to licensed dental hygienists addressing their personal knowledge, confidence, and feelings regarding: pregnant women’s oral health; the average number of pregnant women seen within a month; the time allotted for a routine prophylaxis for pregnant women; the use of American Dental Association (ADA) codes D1330 “Oral Hygiene Instruction” and D4346 “Scaling in the Presence of Moderate to Severe Gingival Inflammation”; their highest level of education; the number of years as a registered dental hygienist (RDH); and, the region of West Virginia in which they practice.

Results: The results of this study reveal current practicing dental hygienists in West Virginia are knowledgeable on how pregnancy affects women’s oral health and the associated risks. However, dental hygienists who have been practicing for greater than 10 years are more confident when educating pregnant patients.

Conclusion: As a continuing education needs assessment project, the researcher of this study indicates a need for dental hygienists who have been practicing for less than 10 years to participant in confidence building activities so they can better educate pregnant patients.