Tooth decay is a common but often preventable problem. Untreated tooth decay is progressive and can undermine children’s long-term health, educational achievements, self image, and overall success. In addition, oral health during pregnancy can have long-term effects on children.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that parents/caretakers should be encouraged to establish a dental home for infants by 12 months of age. A check-up every six months is recommended in order prevent cavities and other dental problems, but a pediatric dentist can tell when and how often a infant or child should visit based on their personal oral health.
Good news: WIC Can Help promote oral health for families by referring them to low-cost or free services.
Smile, California is a campaign (launched October 2018) to educate eligible members about free and low-cost services available through Medi-Cal and make it easier for members to access care. Learn more from WIC’s Critical Role in the Oral Health Plan, an April 2017 presentation from the CDPH Perinatal and Infant Oral Health Quality Improvement Project with updates on oral health status and resources for intervention.
What Local Agencies Can Do:
- Educate WIC families about dental care for young children. These websites are particularly good:
Mouth Monsters (American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry)
2Min2X (Children’s Oral Health Campaign)
- Inform families about Smile, California to help them access dental services provided under the Medi-Cal program, and encourage all family members enrolled in Medi-Cal to see a dentist every year. To find out if a child can enroll in Medi-Cal (including dental services), contact your local social service agency.
Visit InsureKidsNow.gov or Denti-Cal to find a Medi-Cal Dentist by County or City. If you cannot find a dentist in your area who is accepting new patients,
call Denti-Cal (M – F, 8 AM – 5 PM):
Phone: (800) 322-6384
TTY: (800) 735-2922
- Urge all pregnant and breastfeeding women to practice good oral health habits and visit the dentist, too. The Oral Health Care During Pregnancy: National Consensus Statement provides tips for good oral health during pregnancy, which you can share with pregnant women. You can also use these patient education materials from the California Dental Assocation Foundation, and refer to Oral Health During Pregnancy and Early Childhood: Evidence-based Guidelines for Health Professionals.
- Consider offering oral health services at your clinics:
Consult the WIC: Early Entry into Dental Care Guidebook
Conduct online CHDP Fluoride Varnish Training with staff