Oral health is integral to a child’s overall health and well-being and physicians have the rare opportunity to provide a major line of defense against future oral disease. Although it is recommended that a child’s first dental visit occur at the eruption of the first tooth and no later than 12 months of age, most parents do not know this or do not have a relationship with a dentist who will see a child that young. Due to these barriers, a child’s primary care provider is often the first clinician to examine a child’s mouth.
During a well-child visit that includes an oral health screening/assessment of the oral cavity, a physician can detect whether a child is at moderate-to-high risk for dental caries, apply fluoride varnish as a preventive measure as necessary (which can alternatively be done by a nurse practitioner, nurse or medical assistant), and refer the child to a dentist for treatment or other preventive services. These valuable services are all reimbursed by RIteCare.
To help primary care offices adopt this preventive practice, From the First Tooth, a DentaQuest grant funded program, will provide a FREE in-office lunch and learn CME/CNE program that will:
In order to easily incorporate oral health into a busy primary care office, a trained dental hygienist will “adopt” the practice and provide personalized technical assistance and training, including hands-on patient experiences, until the practice is providing oral health assessments and fluoride varnish.
From the First Tooth utilizes the Smiles for Life curriculum developed by the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine Group on Oral Health. This curriculum is used nationwide and offices can chose to complete the program online and receive CME credit. From the First Tooth, however, provides extra services and personalized attention to help a practice get started immediately after taking the training. From the First Tooth has been effectively adopted in Maine, Massachusetts and Connecticut.
It’s simple to start. For an office to receive the FREE program, all that is required is a willingness to start providing oral health services upon completion of the training. To schedule a training or for more information, contact Jan Ruh at firstname.lastname@example.org or 860-977-9233.
To learn more about the Smiles for Life Curriculum, go to www.smilesforlifeoralhealth.org.
Hugh Silk, MD, MPH, From the First Tooth, Principal Investigator
Deborah Fuller, DMD, MS, From the First Tooth, RI Clinical Advisor