Healthy Me is Cavity-Free

In 2019, the IOHA Board of Directors revived the Healthy Me is Cavity-Free effort by creating a new committee to lead efforts for this important initiative. The committee charge is to lead forward-thinking actions and policy changes that will have a positive impact on the prevention of and reduction in early childhood caries in Idaho children ages 0 to 6. The chair of this committee is Bill Foxcroft, MPH, executive director of the Idaho Head Start Association. The first committee meeting was held in February 2020.

Sub-committees include:

Pre-Dental Home: develop opportunities for children ages 0-3 (or 0-6) to receive preventive care, individualized assessments, and referrals as needed, and to provide their parents/caregivers with targeted education enabling the child to reach age 3 without cavities. Co-chairs: Josie Graham, MPA, Susan Ellis, RDH-EA of Central District Health

Caregiver and Early Education: Find creative solutions in providing varied and effective oral health education and resources to the caregivers of young children—parents, home visitors, child care providers, Head Start programs. Chair: Jill Hobbs, RN, LD, child care health consultant for IdahoSTARS

Medicaid Dental Home: Encourage parents of children ages 0-6 to establish a dental home by their first birthday, encourage pregnant women to seek care, and educate clients on the importance of oral health and preventive practices. Chair: Ryan Nielson, DDS, owner of Valley Pediatric Dentistry in Hailey; representative of the Idaho Society of Pediatric Dentists

Provider Education: Educate medical professionals on the importance of oral health, preventive care, screenings during well-child visits, pre/perinatal health with regard to oral health and educate dental professionals on the standards of care for treating small children and pregnant women. (target audiences called out in earlier meetings include: pediatricians, family practice, midwives/doulas; obstetricians, general dentists.) Chair: Colleen Stephenson, RDH-EA, Idaho State University Dental Hygiene

Oral Health Messaging: Explore opportunities for messaging to Idahoans to promote oral health, preventive care, healthy eating habits, best practices (dental visits at eruption of first tooth, oral care for pregnant women). Chair: Carrie Strader, VP Marketing and Public Relations, Delta Dental of Idaho

To volunteer for any of these committees, contact the IOHA at info@idahooralhealth.org

Key partners in this revived effort 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

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. Between 2013 and 2017, the main objective was creating early childhood prevention activities in Idaho that were focused, strengthened, and accelerated through successful partnerships. While the initial Healthy Me is Cavity-Free Collaborative was disbanded in early 2017, support for the prevention of caries for children ages 0-3 continued. During the four-year effort, the IOHA created the Healthy Me is Cavity-Free Collaborative. By 2015, 26 organizational partners were working together to find 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 the following:

  • The pilot and successful launch of a preventive pre-dental home 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 First Teeth Matter program provides direct referrals to pediatric dentists when assessments indicate need for treatment.
  • 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.
  • Productive conversations were held 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.