February 6, 2014
OHCA Contacts: Jo Kilgore - (405) 522-7474, Jennie Melendez - (405) 522-7404
February Is National Children’s Dental Health Month
Tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease among children in the U.S. It is also the most preventable.
February is National Children's Dental Health Month (NCDHM) and the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) encourages parents and caretakers to make sure the children in their lives get the crucial care they need to maintain a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.
A study* of Oklahoma third graders revealed that 60 percent had experienced some form of tooth decay, 19 percent of which had gone untreated.
Simple daily habits and regular dental check-ups can help children avoid the pain of dental disease. OHCA encourages SoonerCare (Oklahoma Medicaid) members to utilize their benefits to get children in their care examined by a dental professional. SoonerCare pays for routine preventive and diagnostic dental services such as oral examinations, topical fluoride applications, sealants and x-rays. SoonerCare also covers emergency examinations and emergency extractions for the relief of pain or treatment of acute infection.
OHCA also offers a Perinatal Dental Access Program for pregnant and postpartum women 21years of age and older who are enrolled in SoonerCare. Major dental and women’s health authorities and organizations agree that good oral health is an important part of overall health, especially during pregnancy.
“The hope of OHCA is that the pregnant woman would seek an exam and cleaning prior to her delivery and a professional relationship would be developed with the dentist,” said OHCA Chief Dental Officer Leon Bragg, D.D.S., MEd. “The dentist would then be willing and encouraged to provide dental services for the patient’s newborn child as soon as teeth started to come in.”
The importance of dental health cannot be overlooked. Cavities and gum disease have been linked to heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, premature birth, low birth weight, respiratory diseases and a host of other debilitating health problems.
SoonerRide is a program that helps members get to and from their SoonerCare appointments if non-emergency transportation is needed. Rides can be scheduled by calling toll-free (877) 404-4500, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday; 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.
SoonerCare members can access a complete list of benefits on the OHCA website: www.okhca.org.
Not exclusive to SoonerCare members, MobileSmiles Oklahoma delivers free dental care and education across the state. With the help of community partners, the nonprofit program provides onsite exams and treatment aboard a mobile dental care unit. Interested organizations can contact MobileSmiles Oklahoma by phone at (405) 241-1299 or (888) 241-1253, or visit http://www.mobilesmilesok.com/.
In addition, the Children's Oral Health Coalition (COHC) is dedicated to improving the oral health of Oklahoma's children and their families. They provide free resources for Oklahomans of all ages on their website: http://www.kidsoralhealthok.org/.
About National Children's Dental Health Month
National Children's Dental Health Month (NCDHM) is sponsored by the American Dental Association (ADA). NCDHM messages and materials have reached millions of people across the country, helping them to develop and maintain good dental habits.
*Source: Oklahoma State Department of Health, Dental Health Service, Oklahoma Oral Health Needs Assessment of 2013.