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Background There is mounting evidence to support the lack of awareness among pregnant women about health consequences and long term risks associated with poor oral hygiene during pregnancy. A recognised and important point of influence is their interaction with health professionals, particularly when receiving Antenatal Care. However, there is limited evidence about the perceptions of ANC providers in Australia toward the provision of perinatal oral healthcare. This study was undertaken to explore the knowledge, attitudes and practices of Antenatal Care ( ANC ) providers in New South Wales ( NSW ), Australia providing perinatal oral healthcare and to identify barriers to and predictors of their practices in this area. Methods: A cross sectional survey was undertaken of ANC providers ( general practitioners, obstetricians/gynaecologists and midwives ) practising in NSW, Australia. Participants were recruited through their professional organisations via email, postal mail, and networking at conferences. The survey addressed the domains of knowledge, attitude, barriers and practices towards oral healthcare, along with demographics. Data was entered into SPSS software and analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics. Results: A total of 393 surveys ( 17.6% response rate ) were completed comprising 124 general practitioners, 74 obstetricians/gynaecologists and 195 midwives. The results showed limited knowledge among ANC providers regarding the impact of poor maternal oral health on pregnancy/infant outcomes. Most ( 99% ) participants agreed that maternal oral health was important yet few were discussing the importance of oral health or advising women to visit a dentist ( 16.4–21.5% ). Further, less than a third felt they had the skills to provide oral health advice during pregnancy. ANC providers who were more knowledgeable about maternal oral health, had training and information in this area and greater experience, were more likely to engage in practices addressing the oral health of pregnant women. Conclusion: The findings suggest that ANC providers in NSW are not focussing on oral health with pregnant women. ANC providers seem willing to discuss oral health if they have appropriate education/training and information in this area. Further research at a national level is required to confirm whether these findings are similar in all Australian states.

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Open Access Journal Article

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Open Access


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