The desired result of the Oral Health Initiative is: “All children have optimal oral health and a reduction in Early Childhood Caries.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), dental disease is the most common chronic childhood disease. It is more common than asthma, diabetes and childhood obesity. Pain and suffering from untreated dental disease can lead to problems eating, speaking, and affect a child’s ability to learn. While all children are at risk for dental decay, there are disparities, and low income families suffer twice as much oral disease and are more likely to go untreated.
The good news is that dental disease is preventable and early intervention saves money in the long run. For example, according to the CDC, children from low-income families who have their first preventive dental visit by age one are not only less likely to have later restorative or emergency room visits, but their average dental-related costs are almost 40% lower over a five year period than children who receive their first preventive visit after age one.
Since its inception the Commission has invested in children’s oral health programs. Over time, the investments have evolved into a comprehensive Oral Health Initiative. In FY 10/11, the Commission convened a group of highly regarded local dentists and a pediatrician to form an Oral Health Advisory Committee (OHAC). OHAC members gave generously of their time and expertise to review existing components of the Initiative and to make recommendations for new investments. OHAC’s recommendations were approved by the Commission and include: continued support of the Mobile Dental Clinic and Hospital Dentistry; while expanding Oral Health Education and distribution of Oral Health Kits. Community Outreach and Education will be added as a new component of the Initiative.