Baptist Health Foundation: Expressly for You
From the #deltadentalARFoundation: True or false? Healthy teeth start in infancy.
Except many new parents don’t know it. They are not aware that the gums of a newborn should be gently wiped after each feeding and baby teeth brushed as soon as they start emerging.
Expressly For You is trying to change that. The Baptist Health agency offers breastfeeding consultations, resources and support, and now, thanks to a #communitygrant from the Delta Dental of Arkansas Foundation, infant oral health education.
The partnership “was a natural fit,” says Jessica Donahue, RN lactation consultant.
She explains that breastfeeding promotes the proper development of the palate and breast milk contains plenty of healthy antibodies and probiotics that create a healthy oral environment.
But those messages have not been widely incorporated into prenatal and postnatal education programs.
Now, when the new moms arrive for a one-on-one breastfeeding consultation at any of the Baptist Health outpatient lactation centers across Arkansas, they receive a Healthy Smiles kit. It contains infant dental health information and two of the most adorable thingamajigs for baby’s smile: a silicone finger brush for tiny gums and a toddler toothbrush for the first teeth. Who could resist?
That’s not just practicing good oral hygiene—that’s giving baby some love.
The breastfeeding consultant demonstrates the proper use of the items and educates the mothers—and dads who come along—on how to keep baby’s mouth healthy. That’s in addition to all the other tips and advice about the benefits of breastfeeding.
The infant oral health project was launched earlier this spring and is expected to benefit as many as 8,200 parents and their newborns by year’s end.
Jessica and her team have high hopes for the future.
They’ve asked participants to complete a short program survey about the program to help guide the next steps. Ideally, as the program scales up across the state, all new parents will receive adequate information and training on getting their babies’ smiles off to a good start.
“This program is making an impact with moms about the benefits of breastfeeding and infant oral care,” Jessica says.
Indeed! That’s how healthy smiles are made. What is your organization doing to bring healthy smiles to Arkansans? Can we help with funding? Find out more here.