Pregnancy Integration Project
at La Clínica Monument
“I feel happy because I know I’m doing all I can to help my baby develop healthily, and at the same time, I’m taking care of myself.”
When Rosalba was referred to the dental clinic in La Clínica Monument during her pregnancy by her medical provider, she felt reassured that it would be safe because she had trust in her provider. Most pregnant women in California receive insufficient dental care during pregnancy, and over half report a dental problem prenatally.
Despite evidence to the contrary, there is still a belief that going to the dentist while pregnant is risky. “Even doctors don’t understand that there is a new paradigm,” says Dr. Tessa McGregor, the Associate Dental Director at La Clínica Monument. In fact, just the opposite is true. The staff at La Clínica are aware that prenatal care is an opportune time for appropriate referrals from medical providers for oral health care because patients are more likely to pursue medical care during pregnancy than at other times. Moreover, a patient’s oral health can be a good indicator of overall health.
They are also aware of the importance of oral health during pregnancy, not only for the potential risk of poor pregnancy outcomes but also because untreated infections in the mouth can be painful and have adverse long-term health consequences. Dental caries is a bacterial infection that is highly transmissible from mother to infant, and control of dental caries in pregnant women has the potential to reduce the severity of transmission once the baby is born.
Being pregnant also makes you more likely to have cavities. In addition to regular cleanings, Rosalba had two cavities filled at the clinic. Through the health education program, she learned that the bacteria that causes cavities can be passed to her baby during pregnancy and after birth and cause problems for her baby later in life.
“The strength of the program,” explains Dr. McGregor, “is in early intervention, collaboration, and community education.” The program works with the community to highlight that preventive, diagnostic, and restorative oral health care is safe throughout pregnancy and effective in improving and maintaining oral health. Since good oral health is essential to good overall health, the team at La Clínica works to ensure that health professionals and pregnant women and their families are aware of the importance and safety of receiving oral health care during pregnancy. The goal of these efforts is to increase their access to and use of oral health care and ultimately improve the oral health and overall health of pregnant women and their children.
That work has had a profound impact on Rosalba and her family. She reflects on the care she has received through La Clínica: “I feel happy because I know I’m doing all I can to help my baby develop healthily, and at the same time, I’m taking care of myself.”
The team at La Clínica also makes sure that patients know that after childbirth, continuing with their own and their baby’s dental care is very important. The program’s core message is that good dental health is key to overall wellness, and pregnancy is an optimal time to establish healthy habits.