Tooth decay remains high in prevalence for children ages 2-5; a fact that fuels the many public health messages shared during National Children’s Dental Health Month observed each year in February. California ranked the third-worst state in the nation for dental decay among kindergartners, according to a 2007 study from Center for Oral Health.
Locally, First 5 San Bernardino has taken action to address improved oral health in children from prenatal stages to age 5, by investing $5,536,965 in Oral Health initiatives that range from funding maternal oral health education to strengthening the network that ensures access to dental care providers. First 5’s investment into support services, community outreach and evaluation, made it possible that 65% of children ages 0-5 that were enrolled in First 5 San Bernardino dental programs, were able to visit a dental care provider for the first time.
Access to a dental care provider is one of the most significant barriers to the proactive management and preventative treatment of oral health issues. Coupled with misconceptions of how and when to address optimum oral health, expecting parents miss opportunities to protect themselves and their unborn children from detrimental attacks to their mouth, causing alarm for many health and dental professionals as patients frequently require care in devastating stages of preventable oral diseases.
First 5 San Bernardino’s Oral Health programs conducted dental exams for more than 1,400 children and 900 parents between 2011-2012, creating access for families to receive regular dental care and access to information on oral health to improve positive outcomes at home.
First 5 San Bernardino, Executive Director Karen Scott comments, “We are hopeful about the results we are seeing from this health initiative and can only anticipate continued growth in this investment. A child’s good oral health condition goes beyond their budding smiles; it helps them to function attentively at school, influences positive diet choices, and helps families’ bottom-line in health care expenses. Minority children and children of low-income families are affected disproportionately by oral health challenges, and our investments are resources to provide the relief and support services they need to continue thriving as a family.”
A free guide to oral health is available for download with resources for families with children (prenatal to age 5), at http://bit.ly/f5sbohguide. For more information about Oral Health initiatives from First 5 San Bernardino, visitwww.first5sanbernardino.org or call (909) 386-7706.