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Low Income Pregnant Women Get Medical And Dental Care In Same Setting

By Kathy Walsh

DENVER (CBS4) - Regular medical checkups are recommended for pregnant women, but doctors will tell you oral care is important as well.

Periodontal disease can be problematic for both mother and baby. Now, the Colorado Medical-Dental Integration Project (CO MDI) is working to reach mothers-to-be. It is an initiative of the Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation, providing funding for dental services in 16 health care organizations that reach the underserved.

One of those organizations is the Inner City Health Center in Denver. It is where Manuela Terrones goes for affordable prenatal care. The 34-year-old is pregnant with her third child. This time around, Terrones is also getting oral care. During this pregnancy, a dental hygienist cleans Terrones' teeth and checks her gums every three months. That's more often than in the past.

(credit: CBS)

"They have told me that it is important for my baby's overall health," Terrones said in Spanish through an interpreter.

According to the American Dental Association, periodontal disease increases the risk of pre-term delivery and low birth weight and mother can transmit it to baby. Yet, approximately 40 percent of pregnant women don't receive oral care, according to survey data from Delta Dental Plans Association.

Now, 16 organizations in Colorado that care for low-income patients have added equipment and dental hygienists, like Karina Villagrana, to their health care team.

"If mom is healthy there's great potential she will teach her children how to be healthy and have a healthy mouth," Villagrana told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.

The Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation funds the Colorado Medical-Dental Integration project.

Allison Cusick, Senior Program Officer of Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation is interviewed by CBS4's Kathy Walsh (credit: CBS)

"We just passed 12,000 patient visits and we're going to continue to work with these clinics and hopefully expand in the next couple years," said Allison Cusick, Senior Program Officer of Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation.

CO MDI also targets children. The project fills a need by offering affordable dental care in a familiar and convenient setting.

Kathy Walsh is CBS4's Weekend Anchor and Health Specialist. She has been with CBS4 for more than 30 years. She is always open to story ideas. Follow Kathy on Twitter @WalshCBS4.

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