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Dental Health

Dentist polishing a patient's teeth

There is a known relationship between oral health, including dental health with overall good health throughout life.

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What is Oral Health?

Good mouth health is essential to good overall health. Dr. C. Everett Koop, former U.S. Surgeon General and Chairman of the national initiative called Oral Health 2000 has said, “You're not healthy without good oral health.” The first-ever Surgeon General's report on oral health identified a "silent epidemic" of dental and oral diseases that burdens some population groups and called for a national effort to improve oral health among all Americans.

Why is Oral Health Important?

There is a known relationship between oral health, including dental health with overall good health throughout life.

Poor oral health has been linked to heart disease, low birth weight and diabetes.

Dental decay (cavities) is the single most common chronic disease of childhood, occurring five to eight times as frequently as asthma.

Despite the reduction in cases of decay in recent years, more than half of all children have cavities by the second grade, and by the time students finish high school, about 80 percent have cavities.

Unless arrested early, dental decay is irreversible.

What's Vermont Doing About It?

As part of Healthy Vermonters 2010 , there are five major Oral Health Objectives.

  • The Baby Bottle Tooth Decay Initiative. The goal of the Baby Bottle Tooth Decay Initiative is to identify children who are at risk for Baby Bottle Tooth Decay (BBTD) and to assure that those children have access to early preventive care.
  • The School-based Fluoride Mouthrinse Program. The School-based Fluoride Mouthrinse Program has been in existence for over 25 years, providing free weekly fluoride mouthrinse to children in schools that do not have community water fluoridation. Each year over 90% of eligible Vermont schools participate in the program. Studies show that new tooth decay can be reduced up to 30% by rinsing weekly with a topical 0.2% solution fluoride mouthrinse.
  • The Tooth Tutor Program. Vermont's Tooth Tutor Dental Access Program. This program was developed in response to the concerns of school nurses, teachers, dental hygienists and other health care professionals who have seen that dental disease continues to affect children and impacts on the development of speech, expressiveness, nutrition and self esteem. The Tooth Tutor Dental Access Program goal is to establish a dental home for each child. A dental home is a place where a person goes to receive preventive, comprehensive and continuous care, as well as a place to turn with dental questions or in cases of emergency.
  • Community Water Fluoridation
  • The Medicaid Program

How are we doing?

The national initiative, Oral Health America, has acknowledged Vermont's on-going social marketing campaign that includes preventive health care messages and ties into its highly successful Tooth Tutor program, a school-based program to meet the needs of underserved children.

Vermont ranks among the top states in its coverage of oral health services, dentist participation in Medicaid, and utilization rates by Medicaid eligibles, but despite that, utilization rates are far below Healthy Vermonter 2010 goals. The Vermont Department of Health is addressing a number of issues including lack of consumer education regarding oral health prevention and treatment through a State Action for Oral Health Access grant from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Additional Resources:

Healthy Vermonters: www.healthyvermonters.info
Oral Health America: www.oralhealthamerica.org