Home Visit

Brush, Floss, Swish – Pregnancy



Starting the Conversation
  • Many women notice changes in their mouths during pregnancy. Have you noticed any changes in your teeth or mouth since being pregnant? You may notice pregnancy gingivitis (sore, puffy, or bleeding gums).
  • Do you have any concerns about your teeth or mouth? What are they?
  • Are you brushing your teeth? How often? What about flossing?

Discuss or remind mom why it’s important to take care of her oral health while she’s pregnant:

  • Mom’s oral health can impact pregnancy. For example, an infection in mom’s mouth can spread and cause harm to her unborn baby.
  • After baby is born, mom can pass cavity causing bacteria to baby by kissing, sharing utensils, and putting baby’s pacifier in her mouth and then baby’s.

1 Demonstrate how to brush and floss.

  • Use the tooth model, toothbrush and “How to Brush” handout instructions to demonstrate proper toothbrushing.
  • Use the floss or white yarn and “How to Floss” handout instructions to demonstrate proper flossing. Use hand to represent the mouth (each finger represents a tooth). Floss between each finger.

How to brush

  • Use a soft bristle toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste. Use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
  • Hold the brush at an angle where the gum meets the tooth. Food and germs like to stick there.
  • Move the toothbrush in small circles.
  • Count to 5 before moving the brush to another spot.
  • Remember to brush the biting surfaces. That is where the food gets stuck and germs hide.
  • Brush the tongue. Germs hide there.

How to floss

  • Wrap the floss around your middle or index fingers to get a firm grip.
  • Hold between your thumbs and fingers.
  • Gently slide the floss between two teeth. Then, wrap the floss toward one tooth, hugging it as you gently slide it up, back, forth, and down.
  • Repeat this process on all teeth. Remember to hug that back tooth even though it is the last one in line.

2 Demonstrate how to swish and swallow.

  • Tell parent they can swish and swallow after eating or drinking when they don’t have a toothbrush with them.
  • Demonstrate how to take a drink of water, swish it around, and swallow it.
  • Reinforce that children should begin swishing and swallowing around age 3.
Extending the Learning

A. Toothbrushes

  • Bring samples of toothbrushes, bristle type (soft, medium, hard). Have parent test each by rubbing circles on her hands to feel the difference. Note that gums are like soft skin and require gentle, daily cleaning (with a soft toothbrush)—not occasional, hard cleaning.

B. Floss: What’s best?

  • Bring samples of different kinds of floss (waxed, unwaxed, tape, flavored, inexpensive, more expensive) and talk about the best kind: there is no best kind, the one the parent prefers and will use is the best!
  • What would help you be successful in brushing your teeth every day? How about flossing?
  • How can I support you in brushing and flossing?

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