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Advanced practice nursing, Caries prevention, Midwives, Perinatal dental care.



  1. Ehlers, Vicky DDS
  2. Callaway, Angelika PhD
  3. Azrak, Birgul DDS
  4. Zock, Cornelia MD
  5. Willershausen, Brita DDS


Purpose: To assess midwives' knowledge about oral health and early caries prevention during perinatal care for mothers and babies.


Study Design and Methods: A survey developed by the investigators was conducted among midwives to assess their knowledge about caries etiology, their attitude toward their role in early caries prevention, and prophylactic measures recommended during pregnancy, and after birth, for their babies. Self-administered questionnaires were sent to 180 midwives in hospitals and 323 midwives from a midwives' association in Hesse, Germany.


Results: Response rates were 46% (83/180) and 56% (181/323); a total of 264 questionnaires were evaluated. Most midwives were familiar with the term Early Childhood Caries (ECC), over 90% knew the role of acidic bacteria, carbohydrates, and insufficient oral hygiene in caries etiology. A vast majority of the midwives considered caries prophylaxis as essential, and saw this topic as part of their core area of competence. Only 60% informed the pregnant women in their care about pregnancy gingivitis. Almost all midwives gave recommendations about caries prophylaxis. The risk for developing ECC was explained to the pregnant women and mothers/parents by 92% of the midwives. Recommendations concerning regular dental visits for small children were given by 80% of the midwives.


Clinical Implications: The time-intensive medical care of families through advanced practice nurses or midwives offers opportunities for better education about caries prophylaxis. A consensus of all the involved healthcare professional groups, including dentists, obstetricians, advanced practice nurses, midwives, pediatric nurses, and pediatricians, is needed to provide uniform recommendations for prophylaxis and prevention of ECC.