Oral Health Prevention Primer
We all play a vital role in oral health disease prevention.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Oral Health Prevention Primer is designed to help pediatricians and other health professionals address oral health in practice, understand the roles of oral health allies, and learn how to collaborate and advocate to achieve optimal oral health for their community to prevent dental disease before it starts.
How do I…
Collaborate with other stakeholders in my area?
Connect to key stakeholders in the health professions, education, and advocacy serving children and families. Identify the services offered and look for opportunities to collaborate. Local, regional and state programs may also offer oral health services and/or benefit from a working relationship with pediatricians.
Pediatric dentists provide both primary and comprehensive preventive and therapeutic oral health care to children from infancy through adolescence, including children and some adults with special health care needs.View Resource
General dentists provide primary dental care including diagnosis, restoration, prevention and/or treatment of diseases of the teeth and related conditions of the oral cavity and associated structures. General dentists who are comfortable doing so may see children as early as age 1, but many are accustomed to beginning at age 3 or older.View Resource
Registered dental hygienists work in a wide variety of settings to deliver education and clinical care. They work under varying levels of supervision depending on state laws and practice acts. Clinical settings can include private practices, community clinics, hospitals, university dental clinics, prison facilities, nursing homes, and schools.View Resource
Dental therapists practice in a limited number of states. Like physician assistants in medical practice, dentists hire and supervise dental therapists to expand care to more patients. Many provide treatment to underserved, at-risk populations in community settings, such as schools, nursing homes, or remote geographic areas. Dental therapists provide preventive and routine restorative care, such as filling cavities, placing temporary crowns, and extracting badly diseased or loose teeth. (As of October 2019, therapists were licensed in AZ, AK, MI, MN, ME, OR, VT, WA. Information on state practice acts can be found here.)View Resource
Community health workers are frontline public health workers who are trusted members of and/or have an unusually close understanding of the community served. They serve as a liaison between health/social services and the community to facilitate access to services and improve the quality and cultural competence of service delivery. Their work increases health knowledge and self-sufficiency through a range of activities such as outreach, community education, informal counseling, social support and advocacy.View Resource
Community Dental Health Coordinators are community health workers with dental skills. They focus on case management, navigation, oral health education and promotion, motivational interviewing and community mapping. Their expertise links patients into available, but underutilized, dental care.View Resource
Chapter Oral Health Advocates are pediatricians or pediatric dentists in each chapter who deliver trainings on how to incorporate oral health into the medical home; advocate for children’s oral health issues; connect pediatricians to other oral health advocates; and build relationships with dental colleagues in their communities to improve access to oral health care.View Resource
School nurses protect and promote student health, facilitate optimal development, and advance academic success. School nurses, grounded in ethical and evidence-based practice, are the leaders who bridge health care and education, provide care coordination, advocate for quality student-centered care, and collaborate to design systems that allow individuals and communities to develop their full potential.View Resource
The Head Start Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center provides training to providers to implement oral health education and prevention in approved programs.View Resource
Women, Infants & Children (WIC) programs provide materials and training to WIC providers and families, including oral health for children and adults.View Resource
The Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (Title V) is a national resource for state public health leaders and others working to improve maternal and child health.View Resource
The US Indian Health Service (IHS) serves American Indian and Alaska Native children. The IHS Early Childhood Caries (ECC) Collaborative provides tools and other resources to begin a successful ECC program.View Resource
Safety net oral health clinics may be housed within local Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) or community health centers. The National Network for Oral Health Access represents the nation’s oral health safety net system. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) provides a website to help people Find a Health Center. Health and Human Services provides a website with links to sources of low-cost dental care.View Resource
The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) provides a directory of local health departments to help you locate and identify services offered locally.View Resource
Join a diverse, broad network of stakeholders working on oral health systems change at the local, state, regional, and national levels.View Resource
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains school sealant programs.View Resource
Oral health coalitions exist in many states and participate in a wide variety of oral health initiatives. Many welcome pediatricians and other health professionals to join and participate.View Resource
State oral health programs are governmental programs in each state that are diverse in size, location in the bureaucracy, funding, staffing and focus. Many states have State Oral Health Plans organized by or in collaboration with the state oral health coalition.View Resource
Local schools and parent teacher organizations
Mobile dental clinics (corporate, charitable or health system outreach and service programs)
Civic, business, tribal, religious and philanthropic organizations
Water utility operators
Water fluoridation advocates