Brush Up on Oral Health!

Brush Up on Oral Health!
Posted on 09/13/2017
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The monthly Brush Up on Oral Health newsletter provides Head Start staff with information on best and promising practices in oral health, current research, practical tips, frequently asked questions and recipes for healthy snacks. 

Did You Know?

Children who have their first dental visit early in life are more likely to:
  • Get more preventive care
  • Have fewer fillings and emergency dental visits
  • Have regular dental visits

Finding Oral Health Care
To stay healthy, it's important for pregnant women and children to get oral health care. For some, it's hard to find. Common barriers to finding care include cost, not being enrolled in or eligible for Medicaid or the state Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), difficulty finding a dental office or clinic, and lack of time.

This issue of Brush Up on Oral Health talks about why regular dental visits are important and offers tips for Head Start staff to help pregnant women and parents find and use oral health care. A recipe for a healthy snack that can be made in the Head Start classroom or at home is also included.

Why Regular Dental Visits Are Important

  • Promoting good oral health. During dental visits, oral health providers ask questions to learn about a child's or pregnant woman's oral health practices. Answers to questions about the use of fluoride toothpaste, eating and feeding practices, and whether the pregnant woman or the child drinks fluoridated tap water can help providers deliver tailored care and education to promote oral health.
  • Teaching the value of good oral health. Early dental visits teach a child that oral health is important. A child who is taken for dental visits early in life is likely to have a positive experience and a good attitude about dental visits. Pregnant women who get oral health care are more likely to take their child to get oral health care.
  • Finding oral health problems early. One goal of dental visits is to find and treat little problems before they become big ones. Tooth decay can be stopped or managed if it is caught early. Treating problems early keeps oral disease from getting worse and costs less than treatment would later. Treating tooth decay in pregnant women is also important because the bacteria that causes tooth decay can be passed from mother to baby after the baby is born.

Tips for Head Start Staff to Help Pregnant Women and Parents Find and Use Oral Health Care

  • Find out if the pregnant woman or child has insurance. Medicaid and CHIP pay for oral health care for children enrolled in these public insurance plans. Some, but not all, state Medicaid programs pay for oral health care for pregnant women. Head Start staff can direct pregnant women and parents to Medicaid and CHIP program officers or others who can determine if they qualify for public insurance. For pregnant women and families that are not eligible for public insurance, private insurance may be available through their state health insurance marketplace.
  • Work with a family service worker or case manager to find care. Family service workers and case managers often know of local oral health professionals or clinics that treat pregnant women and children who are eligible for Medicaid or CHIP. Also, the family service worker or case manager can help pregnant women and parents overcome problems with making and keeping dental appointments.
  • Use online databases to find care. Online databases such as Find Oral Health Care and Find a Dentist list clinics and oral health providers who are eligible for Medicaid or CHIP.
  • Coach parents on how to talk with oral health providers. Pregnant women and parents may be uneasy about calling a dental office or clinic to set up an appointment. They may also be unsure about what questions to ask or what information to share about their own or their child's oral health. Head Start staff can help pregnant women and parents practice how to make an appointment or talk about their oral health issues before they call or visit the dental office or clinic. Questions to Ask When Looking for a Dental Office is a good resource to use for coaching pregnant women and parents.

Cook's Corner: Apple Tuna Bites

photo of apple tuna bites snack
Here's a delicious healthy snack that staff and children can make in a Head Start classroom or at home with their families.

Ingredients (makes 2-4 servings)
1 small can of tuna, drained
2 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons diced onion
¼ cup chopped celery
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 apple, sliced, with core removed

Place the tuna, mayonnaise, onion, celery, and lemon juice in a bowl and mix well. Spoon some of the mixture on top of each apple slice.

Safety Tip: An adult should slice the ingredients.

Contact Us

The National Center on Early Childhood Health and Wellness welcomes your feedback on this issue, as well as your suggestions for topics for future issues. Please forward your comments to [email protected] or call 1-866-763-6481.

Subscribe or view all issues of Brush Up on Oral Health on the Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center.

This issue was developed with funds from grant #90HC0013 for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Head Start, Office of Child Care, and Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau by the National Center on Early Childhood Health and Wellness. This resource may be duplicated for noncommercial uses without permission.
This publication is in the public domain, and no copyright can be claimed by persons or organizations.


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