203059 Beautiful Smiles! Healthy Babies! Improving Oral Health Among Pregnant Women on Medicaid

Monday, November 9, 2009

Alison Buckser, MPH , Public Health Solutions, Providence, RI
Martha Dellapena, MS , Center for Child and Family Health, Rhode Island Department of Human Services, Providence, RI
Laurie Leonard, MS , Division of Community, Family Health & Equity, RI Department of Health, Providence, RI
Good oral health is a critical component of overall health, particularly during pregnancy. Recent research has shown that regular dental care during pregnancy lessens the risk of poor birth outcomes. Since periodontal disease is preventable and treatable, all pregnant women should be encouraged to go to their dentist for at least one prenatal visit. Unfortunately, pregnant women often avoid all dental treatment due to the misconception that it could endanger the fetus. Pregnant women who receive Medicaid are even less likely to go to the dentist. In Rhode Island only about 30% of Medicaid recipients had a dental visit during their pregnancies. In fact, prenatal dental care is not dangerous, and the second trimester is an ideal time for routine dental care. Pregnancy is also an excellent “teachable moment” for children's oral health, which the mothers could incorporate into their babies' lives. Therefore, the Rhode Island Department of Human Services (DHS) developed the Beautiful Smiles! Healthy Babies! Initiative. This two-pronged initiative is designed to increase the number of women on Medicaid who visit a dentist during their pregnancy. A key part of the initiative is to provide a resource book to key community service providers, such as school nurse teachers and family resource counselors. These providers are trusted sources of information to the community and are ideally situated to deliver this critical oral health promotion message. DHS designed the materials to address the specific needs of the at-risk population. This presentation will review the strategy and materials that DHS provided.

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify at least three attributes of culturally appropriate materials for potentially low-literacy populations. 2. Describe the four key components community service providers need to educate pregnant women and girls about good oral health. 3. Explain the importance of good oral health during pregnancy in lessening the risk of poor birth outcomes.

Keywords: Birth Outcomes, Community-Based Health Promotion

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I designed and developed the Initiative and the materials to be presented. I have over 10 years of experience in public health program design and development.
Any relevant financial relationships? Yes

Name of Organization Clinical/Research Area Type of relationship
United Health Care Oral Health received grant to support work on Initiative

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.