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Journal of Dental Hygiene








Purpose: Health care and dental providers must be prepared to address the oral health needs of mothers and children in order to reduce the burden of dental disease in these populations. The purpose of this study was to describe the curriculum and clinical experiences related to prenatal and pediatric oral health in the university and community college dental hygiene programs in the United States (US).

Methods: Dental hygiene program directors (PDs) from across the US were invited to participate in a cross-sectional electronic survey regarding the prenatal and pediatric oral health curriculum at their institution. In addition to program characteristics, the survey included items pertaining to curriculum and competencies, content delivery methods and hours spent, locations for clinical experiences, collaboration efforts, and professional policy guidelines. Responses were summarized, and descriptive analyses were conducted to examine program competency and curriculum by program type.

Results: A total of 124 PDs responded to the survey for a 37.9% response rate; over half (54%) were based in community colleges. Overall, most PDs indicated prenatal (77.3%) and pediatric oral health (66.1%) as a part of their program's core curriculum. However, prenatal oral health was a core competency for 52% of the respondents and less than half (46%) considered pediatric oral health a core competency. Most programs (>75%) reported teaching professional policies and guidelines. Universities reported more hours for prenatal and didactic and clinical experiences than community colleges. The most common barrier reported for prenatal and pediatric clinical experience was the lack of patients (55% and 35%, respectively).

Conclusions: Most dental hygiene programs are utilizing a variety of methodologies to incorporate prenatal and pediatric content into the curriculum and students are being exposed to professional guidelines and recommendations for these populations. However, patient care experiences for prenatal and pediatric patients were low due to lack of patients.


© 2022 Journal of Dental Hygiene.

Included with the kind written permission of the publisher.

Original Publication Citation

Claiborne, D. M., & Naavaal, S. (2022). Prenatal and pediatric oral health education among dental hygiene programs in the United States. Journal of Dental Hygiene, 96(4), 37-45.


0000-0001-6324-9856 (Claiborne)