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H H S Department of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Health Resources and Services Administration

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Oral Health: Women & Children

Oral health is key to overall health and well-being for children and adults. Appropriate oral care is especially important during pregnancy, when both the woman’s own and her future child’s oral health can be affected.

Tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease in the U.S., five times more common than asthma. Untreated, tooth decay causes pain and can lead to infections. Untreated tooth decay and other oral diseases interfere with a child’s ability to eat, sleep and speak and can make it hard to learn or even play.

Fortunately, dental sealants and fluoridated water combined with good personal hygiene and regular dental care can keep most mouths healthy. 

Maternal and Child Oral Health Grant Programs

National Support for Title V/Maternal and Child Health Oral Health Services Grant Program has been awarded to the National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center .  The overall intent of this program is to increase awareness and enhance the quality of oral health services for pregnant women, infants, and children; such efforts will include fostering the development of Title V and other MCHB program initiatives that focus on prevention and control of oral diseases within the MCH population through the facilitation of information and knowledge exchange about oral health programs and programmatic materials among program planners, health providers, policy makers, and researchers concerned with MCH issues.  

Partnership for State Oral Health Leadership supports national membership organizations  in the development and implementation of State and local comprehensive oral health care programs and policies. Includes the Building an Oral Health in Medicine Model Curriculum and Oral Health Financing of State Medicaid and CHIP Programs projects.

School-Based Comprehensive Oral Health Services , a pilot project initiated in September 2011, integrates comprehensive oral health services into school-based health centers to decrease oral health disparities among children and adolescents from low-income families.

Training for Health Professionals

Considerations for Oral Health Integration in Primary Care Practice for Children (PDF - 85 pages) educates primary care providers working with children on the integration of oral health preventive interventions into systems of care.

A Health Professional’s Guide to Pediatric Oral Health Management, a series of seven modules designed to assist health professionals in managing the oral health of infants and young children.

Open Wide: Oral Health Training for Health Professionals, a series of four modules designed to help health and early childhood professionals working in community settings (for example, Head Start and WIC staff) promote oral health in the course of promoting general health for infants, children, and their families.

Special Care: An Oral Health Professional’s Guide to Serving Young Children with Special Health Care Needs, a series of five modules is designed to provide oral health professionals with information to help ensure that young children with special health care needs have access to health promotion and disease prevention services that address their unique oral health needs in a comprehensive, family-centered, and community-based manner.

Be An Oral Health Champion: How School-Based Clinic Staff Can Help Students Achieve Good Oral Health

These curricula were developed by a multidisciplinary teams of experts with funding from HRSA.

Did You Know?
  • Babies should have a dental exam by their first birthdays.
  • Babies should never sleep with a bottle.
  • Children may require dental care more frequently than physical examinations.
  • Children miss 51 million school hours each year for dental problems and visits.