DES MOINES, Iowa – The Iowa Department of Public Health is reminding parents about the importance of dental care for children during the month of February.
February marks National Children’s Dental Health month.
One program the IDPH has had in place since 2006 is “I-Smile.” The program was created in 2005 when legislation began requiring Medicaid enrolled children 12 years and younger to have some form of dental care.
Dental Hygienist and Oral Consultant for the IDPH Stephanie Chickering said baby teeth in children are just as important as permanent teeth when it comes to oral hygiene.
“Children need preventive care at a very early age, because as soon as a tooth erupts in the mouth that tooth is susceptible to decay. We need to keep those baby teeth clean and healthy so that our children have the opportunity to develop properly,” Chickering said.
Chickering said the program focuses on children ages 0-5, but recently began treating children up to 12-years-old. In addition, the program is beginning to serves older adults.
I-Smile reaches all 99 counties in Iowa. It travels to different schools to provide students free dental screenings, fluoride applications, sealants and lessons about dental hygiene.
“A lot of education is done in schools around brushing and flossing, especially the importance of brushing twice a day to keep our teeth healthy so that they can be in the classroom not missing school to stay engaged in what we are learning,” Chickering said.
Since 2006 more than 554,000 fluoride applications and 327,000 dental sealants have been provided to children through I-Smile.
In addition, I-Smile will help families find dental care that fits their insurance and other form of payments.
According to the IDPH, since 2013 there have been 21,630 prevented cavities from the program.