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Open Access Integrating Oral Health Into Overall Health Care to Prevent Early Childhood Caries: Need, Evidence, and Solutions

Medicaid data shows that few one- to two-year-olds receive a preventive dental visit, indicating our limited success implementing the existing policy paradigm of dental home establishment by 12 months of age. Few pediatricians refer children for early dental care, few dentists are comfortable seeing children younger than two-years-old, fewer still provide restorative care, and many dentists do not accept Medicaid insurance. These realities mandate new strategies to meet the needs of children and families and effectively tackle early childhood caries (ECC). Primary care medical providers have frequent contact with families, providing opportunities to incorporate oral health promotion and prevention in non-dental settings. Components of such an approach include: screening; risk assessment; oral health counseling; fluoride varnish application; successful referral for children needing intense intervention; policy support; and financial incentives to sustain change. Current research indicates that oral health counseling, particularly motivational interviewing, and fluoride varnish applied in the non-dental setting positively affect patient outcomes. Cost savings may only be realized if ECC prevention programs use: support professionals; integrative disease management; and innovative insurance structures. The purpose of this paper was to examine the evidence for the effectiveness of the provision of oral health preventive services in the primary care setting.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Division of Pediatric Dentistry, School of Dental Medicine, University of Connecticut, Farmington, Conn., USA. [email protected] 2: Albany Medical College, Albany, N.Y., USA

Publication date: May 1, 2015

More about this publication?
  • Pediatric Dentistry is the official publication of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry and the College of Diplomates of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry. It is published bi-monthly and is internationally recognized as the leading journal in the area of pediatric dentistry. The journal promotes the practice, education and research specifically related to the specialty of pediatric dentistry. This peer-reviewed journal features scientific articles, case reports and abstracts of current pediatric dental research.
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