Emerging Practice

Improving Oral Health Outcomes for Pregnant Women and Infants by Educating Home Visitors

State/Jurisdiction: Virginia
Setting: Community
Population: Medical & Public Health Professionals Infant
Topic Area: Primary & Preventative Care Workforce Development
NPMs: NPM 13.1: Preventative Dental Visit – Pregnancy NPM 13.2: Preventative Dental Visit – Child/Adolescent

The goals of the "Improving Oral Health Outcomes for Pregnant Women and Infants by Educating Home Visitors" program were to provide these non-traditional partners with information on oral health and dental care and to empower them to help improve access to oral health information for pregnant women and infants. The oral health trainings have a strong focus on cultural competency and emphasize the use of key messages from anticipatory guidance, developed based on evidence-based sources on dental care during pregnancy, to educate clients. In addition to education, community health nurses are taught how to perform oral health screenings, provide referrals, and apply fluoride varnish. Families receive links or referrals to available community services that meet their individual needs, including information on dental benefits available through Medicaid. They also participate in a number of community meetings to increase knowledge on the importance of oral health during pregnancy and caring for an infant’s teeth throughout childhood. Two pilot projects were implemented and evaluated to determine if the trainings and home visiting model provided cost-effective and practical methods for delivering oral health referrals and if these programs would lead to increased access to care and benefit utilization among at-risk populations.

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Implementation Handout

Virginia Department of Health, Dental Health Program
JoAnn Wells, Maternal, Infant and Oral Health Consultant
Practice Website