Baby and Child Dentistry
ACCESS TO BABY & CHILD DENTISTRY (ABCD) PROGRAM
Children's dental health matters
Children from low-income families are more likely to experience the greatest amount of oral disease, the most extensive disease, and the most frequent use of dental services for pain relief. Those living below the poverty level disproportionately include families of color, immigrants, refugees, and those who lack access to resources such as education, health or dental care
Tooth decay is the most common chronic health problem among children. Cavities in baby teeth hurt and can limit a child’s ability to:
Left untreated, dental decay in baby teeth can affect a child’s learning and development and can cause serious health problems and infections.
Childhood dental decay is preventable and manageable. Starting a dental care routine when a child is young sets them up for a lifetime of good health!
Children should have their first dental visit by age 1.
What children eat also impacts their dental health (learn more here).
Fluoride prevents cavities by strengthening our teeth & altering the acid-producing bacteria in our mouth.
School sealant programs typically provide dental sealants at no charge to children who are less likely to receive private dental care. This brings quality dental care to children where they are at, who may not otherwise have access (CDC, 2020). Treatment for dental caries helps to prevent further tooth decay and tooth loss and providers for a higher quality of life.
Children and youth with special health care needs are also at greater risk for poor dental hygiene. Dental caries (cavities) are more common among those with disabilities than those without, this is due to developmental abilities or systemic disease. Dental insurance may not be comprehensive enough to care for this group’s specific dental needs and access to those dental providers who deliver specialized care for this group is significantly limited.
- Flyer: The Who, Where, What, Why, When, and How of Oral Health in At-Risk Populations Served by the ABCD Program (CYSHCN)
- National Maternal & Child Oral Health Resource Center: Children with Special Needs Messages
- Patients with Special Health Care Needs: Resources
- Special Needs Directory | Washington State Dental Association
Data show some groups are at higher risk for poorer oral health outcomes, including Non-Hispanic Blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians/Alaska Natives.
- Flyer: The Who, Where, What, Why, When, and How of Oral Health in At-Risk Populations Served by the ABCD Program (BIPOC)
Although most children are covered through private or public health and dental insurance, disparities continue in terms of caries and sealants for children. This can be due to:
- lack of financial resources to pay out-of-pocket costs
- lack of access to quality dental care or transportation to care
- lack of access to fluoridated water and/or healthy food
Eating a healthy diet is one way to maintain good oral hygiene. Diet and nutrition are significant influencers of oral health and can affect the development and progression of oral diseases and conditions such as caries, periodontal disease, and erosion. This makes having access to healthy foods vital. Lower cost foods such as chips or crackers, foods made with processed grain, or high-sugar options also increase the likelihood of poor dental health outcomes. Ensure your family is eating a rainbow different-colored fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, low-fat diary such as milk, yogurt or cheese, and whole grains.
ORAL HEALTH CARE FOR CHILDREN
Oral Health Brochures by Age
- Oral Health Brochure - 6 Months to 1 Year (PDF): English | Spanish | Russian | Arabic
- Oral Health Brochure - 1 to 2 Years (PDF): English | Spanish | Russian | Arabic
- Oral Health Brochure - 2 to 3 Years (PDF): English | Spanish | Russian | Arabic