Black Baby Toddler Brushing Teeth.

Welcome to Monadnock Healthy Teeth, a public health program within Monadnock Community Hospital. Since 2003, our focus has been dental health and wellness for children and their families in the Monadnock Region.

Monadnock Healthy Teeth (MHT) has several specific programs: Healthy Beginnings; Healthy Teeth in preschool, elementary school, middle school and high school; and dental assistance for adult patients. Assistance with enrollment in NH Children’s Medicaid is offered to all families.

Dental disease is the most common chronic childhood disease in the United States!

The goal of Healthy Beginnings is to educate pregnant women about the importance of dental health before, during and after pregnancy. Women who are eligible for this program will receive free prenatal vitamins during pregnancy and after delivery, calcium supplements for nursing moms, dental education for infants, older siblings and families and dental care kits.

The oral health journey for an infant begins within the pregnancy. 

Pregnancy creates physical changes which affect a woman’s oral health. Many women experience “morning sickness,” causing nausea, vomiting and acid reflux. It is estimated that 30 to 40 percent of pregnant women have some form of gum disease and current research indicates an association between gum disease and adverse birth outcomes including low birth weight, preterm birth, preeclampsia and gestational diabetes.1,2  

Unfortunately, it is estimated that only 25 to 50 percent of pregnant women who think they may have a dental problem actually seek treatment.3 Pregnancy is not a time to postpone preventive or therapeutic dental care.2,3

Mothers with poor oral health and high cavity-causing bacteria are at a greater risk of infecting their children with bacteria, therefore increasing a child’s risk of early childhood disease.2 The bacteria is transferred by saliva exchange. Different habits, such as sharing eating utensils, and cleaning dropped pacifiers or teething toys with a parent’s own mouth increases the transfer of the bacteria.2 

When an infant is born at Monadnock Community Hospital, a licensed independent certified social worker has two encounters with each mother, once in our birthing suite and once after the mother is home. 

Our resource team meets with mothers in the birthing suite to assist with enrollment in Medicaid.  At this time, they also provide oral health information and a dental care kit for the entire family. Whether a mother is breast or bottle feeding, oral care for infants starts by gently cleaning the baby’s gum tissue with a damp cloth. Once the first tooth erupts, parents should use a smear of toothpaste on a child-size toothbrush twice daily. 

An infant should have their first dental visit for their first tooth.

It’s important to start regular dental check-ups by the age of 12 months. During well child visits, clinicians at Monadnock Regional Pediatrics conduct routine oral examinations and fluoride varnish treatments from the first tooth through the age of 36 months. Nutrition counseling is also addressed. If a child does not have a dentist, a referral is made to Monadnock Healthy Teeth.

Parental brushing should start at infancy and not end until the child is 8 years old. 

This is recommended to effectively clean teeth and use the correct amount of toothpaste. Children often need frequent checks and daily reminders about brushing and flossing.

Many different health professionals play a part in the oral health journey of pregnant women and infants. The Healthy Beginnings team includes licensed social workers, program and resource coordinators, and a certified public health dental hygienist. 

Dental Disease is 100 Percent Preventable!

• When your mouth is healthy, your baby is more likely to have a healthy mouth.

• Bacteria passes from your mouth to your baby’s mouth – which can cause tooth decay:

→ Do not test the temperature of your baby’s bottle with your mouth.

→ Use a different spoon to taste your baby’s food.

→ Clean your baby’s pacifier with water.

→ Avoid exchanging saliva/bacteria between your mouth and your baby’s mouth.

• Use a clean, damp washcloth to wipe your baby’s gums after every feeding.

• After the first tooth, brush your baby’s teeth using a toothbrush made for babies.

• When your baby’s first tooth comes in, brush with a smear of fluoride toothpaste.

• If you choose to put your baby to bed with a bottle – use water only.

• The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children have their first dental check-up by their first birthday.

For more information about Monadnock Healthy Teeth, contact Louise Danforth, program coordinator, at 603-924-4699, extension 1108, or Amanda Washburn, RDH, CPHDH at 603-924-4699, extension 4303.

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1. Jared H., Boggess K., Periodontal Diseases and Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes: A Review of the Evidence and Implications for Clinical Practice; Journal of Dental Hygiene.  2008;82(3)1-20.

2. Rainchuso L., Improving Oral Health Outcomes from Pregnancy through Infancy; The Journal of Dental Hygiene.   2013;87(6):330-334.

3.Bersell C.H., Access to Oral Health Care: A National Crisis and Call for Reform; The Journal of Dental Hygiene.  2017;91(1):6-14.