Monday, August 28, 2017

New research supports Cavity Free at Three services

A new research article, "Effectiveness on Early Childhood Caries of an Oral Health Promotional Program for Medical Providers" published in the American Journal of Public Health (June 2017) by Dr. Patricia Braun et al., outlines the necessity for providing oral health services to infants and toddlers to prevent Early Childhood Caries.

Medical providers have a unique opportunity to use health care visits to promote the primary prevention of Early Childhood Caries. The research shows a reduction in Early Childhood Caries when children received 4 or more fluoride varnish applications at a medical visit by age 3.

Key public health implications from the article include:
  • Early childhood caries is the number one chronic disease of childhood.
  • Children in low-income families have double the caries rate of other children and are less likely to receive dental care.
  • Untreated cavities can lead to pain, low quality of life, missed school, emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and even death.
  • An estimated $1.55 billion is spent annually to treat dental decay in children younger than 5 years (excluding hospital costs).
  • Nationally, few dental providers participate in public insurance programs, leading publicly insured children to have less access to dental care than privately insured children.
  • To reduce access barriers, all state Medicaid programs reimburse non-dental health care providers for the provision of oral health promotion (OHP) services.         

Oral Health data for the State of Colorado:
  • 49.8% of children on Medicaid received a dental or an oral health services by a medical or dental provider (FY 2016)
  • 6.8% of children enrolled in Medicaid had a dental visits by age 1 year (FY 2016)

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommend that primary care clinicians apply fluoride varnish to the primary teeth of all infants and children starting at the age of primary tooth eruption.

Cavity Free at Three is a state health initiative whose mission is to eliminate early childhood caries in Colorado's children. Cavity Free at Three teaches medical and dental providers how to incorporate preventive oral health services for young children and pregnant women into their practices. Cavity Free at Three is managed by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

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