Objective: To determine the knowledge, attitudes and beliefs of undergraduate pre-clinical medical and dental students; at the University of the West Indies, towards dental treatment during pregnancy.
Methods: All first and second year students attending the University of the West Indies, Schools of Dentistry and Medicine were invited to participate in a self-administered validated questionnaire which was piloted on the dental interns for item clarity.
Results: Two hundred and seventy-seven students participated in the study. Mean age 20.6 years, 53.8% female, with the major ethnic groups showing 56.2% Indo-Trinidadian and 21% Mixed. Some (12.3%) thought that swollen gums were associated with pregnancy, while 28% of participants felt that bleeding gums were not associated with pregnancy. The majority of participants (61.8%) felt that it was safe to conduct dental examinations during pregnancy however, 27.6% of the participants felt that radiographs were safe during pregnancy. The majority (54%) were uncertain whether pregnancy was associated with tooth decay. More than three quarter of the students (77.9%) were unsure whether oral disease was associated with pre-eclampsia.
Conclusion: These data provide the first insight into the knowledge, attitudes and beliefs of pre-clinical, undergraduate dental and medical students on pregnancy and oral health in the Caribbean. The knowledge of the participants in this study was low, which underscores the need to educate all future health professionals at the preclinical level on the correlation between dental health and pregnancy and the importance of the effects of dental treatment on systemic diseases.
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