Tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease in Oregon. According to the Oregon Health Authority’s Smile Survey in 2012, about 52 percent of Oregon children ages 6 to 9 have had a cavity. This preventable disease has been linked to missed school days, delayed physical growth, disruptions in learning, costly oral health treatment, and emergency room and hospital visits related to dental pain.
Primary care providers, both medical and dental, have a unique opportunity to address the issue of early childhood care, whether it is at a wellness child visit or an annual dental visit. Early prevention has been shown to reduce the risk of tooth decay and as a community we can all play a part in educating our patients, families and neighbors about the importance of good oral health.
Early prevention activity is the key
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists (AAPD) recommend early prevention activity starting at 6 to 12 months of age. Some of these activities include:
- Oral examination
- Caries-risk assessment
- Assessment of oral growth and development
- Oral health education
- Referral to dental home
These oral health activities can be relayed to the parent or guardian in order to educate about their child’s overall healthcare. These activities can be implemented at birth and carried out to adulthood.
Medical providers play important role
Medical providers can help communicate the importance of the dental home and the first dental visit. Communication between the dental and medical homes should be ongoing to appropriately coordinate care for the child as recommended by the AAPD and AAP. Patients should establish their dental home by 12 months of age to aid in proper preventative habits.
Every InterCommunity Health Network CCO member has a dental plan
To find out which dental plan is assigned to a member of InterCommunity Health Network CCO, use one of the following methods: