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Jackson Care Connect supports oral health for pregnant members and babies

MEDFORD, Ore. — Dental care during pregnancy and early childhood is an important part of the overall health of moms and babies. To support pregnant members and families with young children, Jackson Care Connect offers a new oral health class called Two Bright Smiles.

Jackson Care Connect is a Coordinated Care Organization providing care for Oregon Health Plan (Medicaid) members in Jackson County. Two Bright Smiles was piloted in January, and the next offering of the quarterly class is August 27. The class is free for Jackson Care Connect members who are pregnant or who have babies up to one year old.

Two Bright Smiles is offered through Jackson Care Connect’s Starting Strong program, which supports expecting members and families with young children by providing incentives for healthy activities.

Two Bright Smiles teaches the key aspects of oral care, including how to prevent and treat cavities, how nutrition affects oral health and how to make dental visits easier on both parents and kids. The goal of the class is to empower parents to prioritize oral health for themselves and their children, and to give members the opportunity to connect with and learn from each other.

“It’s important that women know dental visits during pregnancy are safe and recommended,” says Alexa Jett, dental innovations specialist. “This class addresses the common changes that can occur during pregnancy, and helps members be proactive with their oral health.”

Since nutrition is an important part of oral heath, the class teaches participants how to read nutrition labels and gives tips for healthy snacks like fruits and vegetables.

“Many people are surprised to learn how much sugar is in common beverages,” says Jett. “Our pilot class included lots of ‘a-ha moments’ when we had participants measure out the amount of sugar in beverages like soda or juice.”

Babies are welcome in the class, which gives parents a hands-on opportunity to examine their baby’s mouth. Riki Rosenthal, Starting Strong program specialist, shows images of healthy mouths, and the progression of tooth decay. The class demonstrates how to clean a baby’s mouth, and how to care for teeth as they start to emerge.

Because Jackson Care Connect coverage includes dental care for members, Rosenthal also makes sure class participants are connected to a dentist, and have the contact information they need to follow up on their care.

At the end of the class, members set goals to support their oral health, whether that’s incorporating more healthy eating habits, or scheduling a dental visit for themselves or their children. Members also receive a bag with oral health care supplies and vouchers for the Starting Strong store, which they can redeem for baby or child care items.

Two Bright Smiles will be Monday, August 27, from 9-11 a.m. at the Starting Strong store at 702 W. Main Street in Medford.

Jackson Care Connect members can register for the class by calling 541-494-1004 or emailing startingstrong@jacksoncareconnect.org





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