Bridging the Gap for Dental Care in Pregnancy

Dental health is directly tied to pregnancy health, but too often, pregnant women don’t get the oral care they need.

Three students in the Pacific University dental hygiene program looked at national research and surveyed healthcare providers at Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center in Hillsboro to determine how they could support better care for patients.

What they found is that, while Virginia Garcia practitioners bucked the norm by understanding the importance of dental care during pregnancy, many didn’t feel qualified assessing their obstetric patients’ oral health.

“We decided to make a plan to bridge the gap,” said Marianne Tardy DHS ’16.

Students in the Pacific University School of Dental Hygiene Studies are required to complete a capstone project, one that addresses a community need and offers a sustainable solution.

Tardy, along with fellow students Kristina Petersen DHS ’16 and Nadia Viado DHS ’16, identified a range of possible solutions to improve oral health during pregnancy for patients at Virginia Garcia. They met with leadership from the clinic to present their plans.

As a result, the students have developed a pictorial flip book that will help OB/GYN providers be on the look out for significant dental health issues in their patients.

Additionally, the students will complete a practicum this summer at the clinic, helping to collect data that, they hope, will lead to funding to allow Virginia Garcia to add an extended practice dental hygienist to their staff to take part in obstetric appointments.

May. 5, 2016