Though preventable, tooth decay is the most common chronic disease found in young children. In Santa Clara County, roughly 50 percent of low-income children have a history of cavities before they enter Kindergarten. Oral health disease can impact children’s growth, speech, development, school readiness and overall quality of life. To support children’s oral health, FIRST 5 invests in programs that support prevention, early identification and treatment of tooth decay.
In order to promote oral health, FIRST 5 partners with The Health Trust, provides oral health outreach events and workshops throughout the County and promote awareness of the importance of children’s oral health care, strengthen parents’ knowledge about healthy dental practices and connect families to dental clinics.
Early Intervention Dental Services
FIRST 5 supports dental services for children, like those provided by the Children’s Dental Group and Gardner Family Health Network. These centers offer an innovative approach to pediatric dentistry, combining the latest technology and best dental practices with a fun, kid-friendly environment that welcomes all children and families.
Oral Health Workshops
FIRST 5 partners with The Health Trust to deliver oral health education through the use of promotoras, community health workers trained on general concepts about oral health. The promotoras conduct outreach in English and in Spanish and recruit families to host home meetings where the oral health education is delivered to small groups of children and adults. Emphasis is placed on four principles of oral health: proper brushing, daily flossing, balanced diet and seeing the dentist on a regular basis.
FIRST 5 is a strong supporter of community water fluoridation and has invested over $1 million in the project to optimally fluoridate drinking water in San Jose, currently the largest city in the country without community water fluoridation. In 1999, the Centers for Disease Control named community water fluoridation as the most cost efficient way to promote strong oral health in children. Additionally, research conducted by the CDC has also found, that children living in communities with tap water that is fluoridated at optimal levels have fewer decayed teeth than children who live in areas where their tap water is not fluoridated at optimum levels.