Tips for National Children’s Dental Health Month
What do 7 out of 10 low-income children below the age of 5 in Los Angeles County have in common?
(Trust us: It’s nothing to smile about.)
According to a study funded in part by First 5 LA, some 72 percent of children under age 5 in L.A. County's low-income communities have untreated cavities – more than double the national average among youngsters in comparable age and income groups.As February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, First 5 LA would like to remind parents, caregivers and the professionals who serve young children about the importance of providing them with proper oral health care.
“Families experience many barriers to accessing oral health services, from not knowing when their child should first visit the dentist to a lack of transportation,” said Nancy Watson, a program development officer at First 5 LA. At the provider level, general dentists may not have the experience or comfort level to see young children, and physicians may not refer young children for a dental visit.
“Families experience many barriers to accessing oral health services, from not knowing when their child should first visit the dentist to a lack of transportation” – Nancy Watson
Watson says First 5 LA has long recognized that healthy nutrition and dental care are important for the health and well-being of a child. For example, the First 5 LA Oral Health and Nutrition Expansion and Enhancement Initiative, or OHN, has been implemented to better help children in L.A. County gain access to quality dental health services. The goal of First 5 LA’s Children's Dental Care Program, or CDCP, is to provide preventative or treatment services to 95,000 children.
To help those who care for and serve young children, Watson provided this map and contact information to a range of First 5 LA-funded community dental clinics in L.A. County. First 5 LA’s new Winter 2015 Family Guide also provides tips on helping develop a child’s beautiful smile – even before childbirth!
Since 2011, First 5 LA has invested $59 million to improve oral health access for more than 133,000 children ages 0-5 countywide through OHN and CDCP.
As a result of these investments, an additional 100,000 children ages 0-5 will benefit from improved oral health access through 2018, Watson said.
“Our funding has focused not only providing quality services but also on increasing our partners’ ability to serve more children and sustain oral health services beyond First 5 LA funding, either through capital projects, policy or technology/workforce development,” Watson said.