In 2013, the Idaho Oral Health Alliance acknowledged a need to reduce Early Childhood Caries in Idaho children from age 0 to 3 years old and adopted a multi-year initiative to address this issue. The main objective was creating early childhood prevention activities in Idaho that were focused, strengthened, and accelerated through successful partnerships.

To address these objectives, the IOHA created the Healthy Me is Cavity-Free Collaborative. By 2015, 26 organizational partners were participating in quarterly gatherings and countless committee meetings aimed at finding a multi-faceted approach to addressing the issues of dental disease in young children, specifically cavities or caries. Led by the IOHA, this group of dedicated volunteers from organizations like Head Start, Delta Dental of Idaho, Idaho STARS, United Way, the Idaho Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and representatives from Idaho Medicaid/Idaho Smiles worked together to accomplish some of the following:

  • The pilot and successful launch of a preventive dental clinic model in Central District Health Department that provides opportunities for children ages 0-3 to receive preventive care and individualized assessments and to provide their parents/caregivers with targeted education enabling the child to reach age 3 without cavities. This model provides direct referrals to pediatric dentists when assessments indicate need for treatment. For more information, visit https://cdhd.idaho.gov/hl-oralhealth.php
  • Implementation of marketing efforts through Idaho Smiles/Medicaid to encourage parents with eligible children to establish a dental home by the child’s first birthday. The goal was to increase access, improve oral health, and lower overall dental costs. The successful marketing efforts led to an additional 1,406 children being seen in 2014/2015.
  • The creation of Caregiver and Early Education training programs for home visitors. The web-based and face-to-face training program was led by Delta Dental of Idaho Community Outreach, the Idaho STARS program, and the state’s Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program and provided educational opportunities through multiple home visiting programs across the state. For more information about Delta Dental of Idaho Community Outreach, visit https://www.deltadentalid.com/Community-Outreach and for Idaho STARS, visit http://idahostars.org/
  • Productive conversations with Idaho insurers regarding reimbursement of fluoride varnish applications, distribution of information regarding fluoride supplementation, and potential caries risk assessments accomplished in the medical setting during well-child visits. Reimbursement conversations were based on recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics Bright Futures Guidelines and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
  • Inclusion of members of the Idaho Oral Health Network (IOHN) in collaborative efforts. Click here for more information about the IOHN or click here for the Idaho Oral Health Program

While the formal Healthy Me is Cavity-Free Collaborative was disbanded in early 2017, our support for the prevention of caries for children ages 0-3 still runs strong. We regularly interact with key partners who are now leading these efforts.

Key partners in this continuing important work include:

Idaho Oral Health Program

Central District Health Department/First Teeth Matter 

Delta Dental of Idaho Community Outreach 

Idaho Chapter of the American Pediatric Dentists

Idaho Head Start Association

Idaho Smiles/MCNA

Idaho STARS 

For more information, contact the IOHA at info@idahooralhealth.org