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Healthy Smiles from the Start turns 2

November 16, 2015

By Michelle Manchir


Project leaders: Molly Bickford, left, and Alliance of the American Dental Association President Susan Gardner helped create the Health Smiles from the Start kit two years ago.
Do your pregnant patients know that the use of X-rays, pain medication and local anesthesia is safe for their use? Or that sore gums that bleed easily may be a result of pregnancy gingivitis?

Two years ago, the Alliance of the American Dental Association took steps to help new moms and infant caregivers understand important oral health information.

This month, the initiative, Healthy Smiles from the Start, turns 2 years old.

The multifaceted prenatal and postnatal dental health care education program is the brainchild of the Alliance of the American Dental Association with the help of the ADA, Henry Schein Cares, said Molly Bickford, who helped develop the kit, and is co-chair of the Alliance’s dental health education committee, along with AADA President Susan Gardner.

Available in English and Spanish, the kit includes a five-minute video featuring a dentist and an expectant mother discussing oral health during pregnancy, nutrition, keeping baby’s teeth clean and an “eruption chart” that shows when to expect baby teeth to erupt, among other informative brochures.

“The materials are not copy written. They are meant to be shared, copied, reproduced,” said Mrs. Bickford. “This education needs to be taught however we can get it to the prenatal mom.”

Since its launch Nov. 4, 2013, about 850 kits have been distributed in 31 states and also by volunteers on mission trips to Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala and Cuba, according to Mrs. Bickford.

Birthing centers, hospitals, Head Start directors and obstetric/gynecological offices throughout the U.S. also disseminate the kits.

“The video is easy to understand and the materials are short and to the point. The eruption chart is very helpful,” said Mrs. Bickford.

The program may continue to expand. The Alliance has funding through 2016 to keep producing kits, Mrs. Bickford said, thanks to Henry Schein Cares and Colgate. Mrs. Bickford said the Alliance’s goal is to partner with state Head Start programs to distribute more kits to new parents.

“We will continue to watch this project grow across the country,” Mrs. Bickford said.

For more information on the kit or to sign up to receive the toolkit, email AADA@AllianceADA.org. More information is also available toward the right of the homepage at AllianceADA.org.