Pregnant women are vulnerable to a wide range of oral health conditions that could be harmful to their own health and future child. Despite the usefulness of regular dental service utilization in prevention and early detection of oral diseases, it is notably low among pregnant women. In this qualitative study, we aimed to explore barriers and facilitators influencing pregnant women’s dental service utilization.
Using a triangulation approach, we included pregnant women (n = 22) from two public health centers, midwives (n = 8) and dentists (n = 12) from 12 other public centers in Tehran (Iran). Data was gathered through face-to-face semi-structured interviewing and focus group discussion methods. The analysis of qualitative data was performed using conventional content analysis with MAXQDA10 software.
Reported barriers of dental service utilization among pregnant women were categorized under emerging themes: Lack of knowledge and misbelief, cost of dental care, physiological changes, fear and other psychological conditions, time constraint, dentists’ unwillingness to accept pregnant women treatment, cultural taboos and lack of interprofessional collaboration. Solutions proposed by dentists, midwives and pregnant women to improve dental care utilization during pregnancy were categorized under three themes: Provision of knowledge, financial support and establishing supportive policies.
Understanding perceived barriers of dental service utilization during pregnancy can serve as baseline information for planning and formulating appropriate oral health education, financial support, and legislations tailored for lower income pregnant women, midwives and dentists in countries with developing oral health care system.