City Health Information
Volume 32 (2013) New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene No. 1; 1-6



Promoting Oral Health
  • Caries and periodontal disease can largely be prevented by limiting sugar intake, brushing teeth twice daily, and flossing daily.

  • Examine the mouth for signs of oral disease and assess oral health risks, such as poor oral hygiene and alcohol or tobacco use.

  • Educate patients about good oral hygiene and regular dental visits and make referrals as appropriate.


Maternal oral health may impact birth outcomes as well as infant oral health. Periodontitis in pregnancy is associated with preterm birth and low birthweight (1). Caries-causing bacteria can be transmitted from mother to newborn through saliva; mothers with high levels of cariogenic bacteria are at increased risk for passing bacteria to their children and predisposing them to childhood caries (36). Dental care during pregnancy may decrease caries transmission (36,37). Encourage pregnant women to schedule a dental visit. Medicaid covers preventive dental treatments (Box 4).

Necessary dental procedures such as diagnostic radiography, periodontal treatment, restorations, and extractions are safe and best performed during the second trimester (Resources--NYS Department of Health). Elective procedures should be delayed until after pregnancy (36,37). Stress the importance of thorough brushing and flossing. Gingivitis is present in 30% of pregnant women and pregnancy oral tumors are present in up to 5% of women (36). These lesions normally recede after delivery; patients should be monitored and educated. If the lesions bleed or interfere with chewing, refer patient to a dentist (36).

Medicaid and Child Health Plus:
  • Cover a range of diagnostic, preventive, and restorative treatments.
  • Fluoride varnish application by health care providers can be reimbursed up to 4 times a year for children aged 7 and younger.
  • Contact the patient's health plan for specific coverage details.
  • Does not cover routine dental care but may cover certain emergency or complicated dental procedures in a hospital setting.
For additional eligibility information or to locate a community dental clinic or provider:

PDF version of Box 4