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New ADA resource supports expectant dentists

Managing Pregnancy module guides dentists in balancing family planning, practice

March 10, 2020

By David Burger

 Photo of Dr. Mattingly
Managing Pregnancy: Dr. Emily Mattingly, chair of the ADA New Dentist Committee, helped develop content for the new module as a mother of three.

A positive pregnancy test can be a reason for celebration for expectant mothers and soon-to-be fathers, and the test often leads to myriad questions about how to achieve a new norm of balancing pregnancy and a new baby while still leading or working in a busy dental office.

The ADA’s Council on Dental Practice, in collaboration with the New Dentist Committee and several external dental consultants, developed the new Guidelines for Practice Success module on Managing Pregnancy, a resource that combines best practices with practical information to guide new dentists through the process of managing a new chapter in the lives and careers.

Dr. Emily Mattingly, ADA New Dentist Committee chair, helped develop the content.

"I wanted to be involved as a mother of three," she said. "I was an associate dentist when I had my first child, who was premature. Navigating my second year in practice and then having a child with extreme medical needs was a lot to take on with no resources available to my profession.  Later, I had two more children as an owner dentist. The burden of maternity leave and other aspects of pregnancy were different stressors than that of an employee dentist.  I am extremely happy with my current work life balance as a mother of three and would love to share my knowledge with other female dentists and dental professionals."

 Photo of Dr. Aflatooni
Dr. Aflatooni
The resource was developed to recognize that the individual dentist’s needs and concerns would vary depending on whether they were a pregnant dental practice owner; a pregnant associate/employee dentist, or a dentist responsible for managing and coaching a staff that may include a pregnant woman or expectant parent.

The issue is especially relevant since, in 2018-19, for the first time ever, female students comprised more than half (50.5%) of enrolled students for all four years in U.S. dental schools, according to the ADA Health Policy Institute.

"The Council on Dental Practice is pleased to provide new dentists with this comprehensive resource," said Dr. Nima Aflatooni, who is both a member of the council and the father of a one-year old daughter. "Pregnancy and the years that come after it should be a time of joy. This special time often begins with the realization that pregnancy, managing a family and performing dentistry, either as a practice owner or associate or employee dentist, can be a complicated balancing act that requires you to constantly reassess and shift priorities.”

Some of the topics covered in the GPS module on Managing Pregnancy include: the pregnant individual’s rights during pregnancy; maternity leave; child care; safety in regards to radiation and nitrous oxide; returning to the office after maternity leave; ergonomic issues; breastfeeding and pumping; and more.

 Rudy Liddell
Dr. Liddell
Seventh in the ADA’s Guidelines for Practice Success suite of practice management resources, the module offers up-to-date original resources, such as checklists, tip sheets and videos created specifically for this project and designed to make it easier for ADA members to address pregnancy whether it happens with the dentist or staff. The online content is available for free to ADA members, and in addition the resource is available in print and eBook formats through the ADA Catalog.

“Regrettably, no one can provide hard and fast answers for what decisions to make in any single situation,” said Dr. Rudy Liddell, CDP chair. “But the ADA Guidelines for Practice Success module on Managing Pregnancy offers helpful information and resources on many of the health-related concerns that can be worrisome to expectant parents."

The ADA will stream a webinar March 17 on the topic, and a recording of it will be available at ADA.org/Accelerator. The webinar is part of the ADA Accelerator Series, a new online, on-demand program specifically designed to provide information that is tailored to the early-career dentist’s unique work-life balance needs.