News / Blog

Find Out Why Oral Health is Important for Your Child

By Georgia Ullmann, Health Services Manager

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, so we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to remind our ClackCoKids community how important dental hygiene is to the well-being of children–even those with baby teeth. Our goal is to ensure everyone understands the importance of oral health and what that should look like. For example, did you know that all children should have their first dental visit as soon as their first tooth erupts or by their first birthday?

Unfortunately, tooth decay is the most common health condition we see among the kids in our programs. An average of 38% of the children we screen have a concern that needs further evaluation by a dentist–that’s higher than concerns for asthma and obesity.

Untreated tooth decay can lead to other health conditions such as an abscess, or infection, which can cause serious pain. In rare cases, such an infection can lead to death. Tooth pain can impact the child’s ability to learn because it becomes difficult to focus and sit still for any period of time. It can also impact the nutrition of children making it difficult for them to eat many different types of food.

Luckily, ClackCoKids has several programs in place to help kids and parents stay on top of dental hygiene. We have family advocates and educators to work with families and ensure they have a dentist. We can provide a list of recommended dentists who are good with children and help you find the best fit for your family.

Most of our ClackCoKids are covered by the Oregon Health Program (OHP), the statewide Medicaid program, which covers dental care.

We even bring oral health support right into the classroom with daily tooth brushing, which is unique to Early Head Start and Head Start programs as opposed to most childcare environments. In addition, we provide every child with a dental screening in the classroom three times per year that includes cleaning, fluoride, and access to toothbrushes for home use. As many as 381 children have been screened by our on-site dental program.

To find out more about oral health and access additional resources, visit this webpage.