A successful dental care referral program for low-income pregnant women in New York

Stefanie L. Russell, Steven J. Kerpen, Jill M. Rabin, Ronald P. Burakoff, Chengwu Yang, Shulamite S. Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite evidence-based guidelines that advocate for dental care during pregnancy, dental utilization among pregnant women remains low, especially among low-income and racial–ethnic minority women. We investigated self-reported dental care referral and self-reported dental care attendance among a group of 298 low-income, largely racial–ethnic minority pregnant women attending two suburban prenatal care clinics that had integrated dental care referrals into their prenatal care according to these guidelines. We administered a questionnaire that asked women: (1) whether they had been referred for care by their prenatal care provider; (2) whether they had been seen by a dentist during pregnancy. Among those women who were eligible for a dental care referral (those who reported having dental symptoms, and those not having a recent dental visit), we found that 73.0% reported that they had indeed been referred for dental care by their prenatal provider, while the remaining women reported either no referral (23.5%, n = 67) or were not sure whether they had been referred (3.5%, n = 10). Among those who reported a dental care referral, 67.3% (n = 140) reported that they saw a dentist during their pregnancy, while of those who reported no dental care referral only 35.1% (n = 27) reported a dental visit (Chi-Sq. = 24.1, df = 1, p < 0.001). Having received a dental referral was a significant predictor of reporting a dental visit during pregnancy, with women who received a referral being 4.6 times more likely to report a dental visit during pregnancy compared to those women who did not report a referral. These results demonstrate that vulnerable pregnant women referred for dental care by their prenatal provider will indeed seek and utilize dental care when offered. This dental referral program may serve as a model for improving the utilization of dental care among this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number12724
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021


  • Dental care
  • Low-income women
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal care
  • Racial–ethnic minority women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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