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INTRODUCTION


Tooth decay (cavities) is one of the most preventable chronic diseases in children. Untreated tooth decay can cause pain and infections, and for a child can lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing, and learning. It can also contribute to other chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease later in life.
Effective prevention measures exist that everyone can adopt to improve oral health. These measures include:
  • Daily oral hygiene procedures (Brushing, flossing)
  • Eating healthy (Limiting sugars, starches and unhealthy snacks)
  • Routine dental examinations (Including examinations for cancers)
  • Dental sealants
  • Fluoride (Through a water supply, toothpaste or rinses, or fluoride varnish treatments)
  • Quitting (or not starting) commercial tobacco

ORAL HEALTH SMCHD SERVICES


The Healthy Smiles Program began in 2008 in response to the oral healthcare disparity in Shawano County children. Today, Shawano County Healthy Smiles (SCHS) participates as a grantee in the Wisconsin Seal-A-Smile program, whose mission is to “Improve the Oral Health of Wisconsin Students by Providing School-Based Dental Sealants.” This is a collaborative program between the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Delta Dental of Wisconsin Foundation, and the Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin, working with dental providers to offer school-based oral health education, dental screenings, fluoride varnish treatment, and dental sealants to children at no cost. 

Find out more about this program, or if your child’s school participates here:
sealasmile.wisconsin.gov/Consent/Home/About
 
The SMCHD can help you connect with lower cost dental clinics if your income is limited:
Oral Health Program: Find Dental Care | Wisconsin Department of Health Services

DATA


According to Oral Health Fast Facts (cdc.gov)
  • By age 8, over half of children (52%) have had a cavity in their primary (baby) teeth.
  • Children from low-income families are twice as likely to have cavities as children from higher-income families.
  • 1 in 4 adults aged 20 to 64 currently has cavities.
  • On average, 34 million school hours are lost each year because of unplanned (emergency) dental care, and over $45 billion in US productivity is lost each year due to untreated dental disease.
And in Wisconsin:
  • About one in five head start children aged three to five have early childhood tooth decay. One in four Head Start children have untreated tooth decay and need treatment. By age five, one in two Head Start children have had tooth decay.
  • One in five third-grade children have untreated tooth decay. One in two third-grade children have had tooth decay. 
  • One in six ninth graders need dental treatment for tooth decay. 
Tooth DecayTooth decay (cavities) is one of the most common preventable diseases in children. Children as young as 12-18 months can get cavities. Children do not lose all their baby teeth until they are about 11 or 12 years old. Untreated tooth decay can cause pain and infections that may lead to problems with eating, speaking, sleeping, playing, and learning.

About one in five head start children aged three to five have early childhood tooth decay. One in four Head Start children have untreated tooth decay and need treatment. By age five, one in two Head Start children have had tooth decay. (2014 Wisconsin Healthy Smiles Survey of Wisconsin’s Head Start Children)

One in five third-grade children have untreated tooth decay. One in two third-grade children have had tooth decay. (2013 Wisconsin Healthy Smiles Survey of Wisconsin’s Third-Grade Children)

One in six ninth graders need dental treatment for tooth decay. (2015 Wisconsin Healthy Smiles Survey of Wisconsin’s Ninth-Graders)


Tooth decay is preventable. Fluoride varnish, a high concentration fluoride coating that is painted on teeth, can prevent about one-third (33%) of decay in the primary (baby) teeth. Children living in communities with fluoride in the tap water have fewer decayed teeth than children who live in areas where their tap water does not have fluoride. Similarly, children who brush daily with fluoride toothpaste will have less tooth decay. Applying dental sealants to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth is another way to prevent tooth decay. Studies in children show that sealants reduce decay in the permanent molars by 81% for 2 years after they are placed on the tooth and continue to be effective for 4 years after placement.
 

Oral Health

Oral health means much more than healthy teeth. It means being free of chronic oral-facial pain conditions, oral and pharyngeal (throat) cancers, oral soft tissue lesions, birth defects such as cleft lip and palate, and scores of other diseases and disorders.

Oral health is integral to general health. You cannot be healthy without oral health. Oral health and general health should not be interpreted as separate entities.

Safe and effective disease prevention measures exist that everyone can adopt to improve oral health and prevent disease. These measures include daily oral hygiene procedures and other lifestyle behaviors, community programs such as community water fluoridation and tobacco cessation programs, and provider-based interventions such as the placement of dental sealants and examinations for common oral and pharyngeal cancers.