Susan Buckley, RN, Director, Public Health
Ira Singh, MPH, Deputy Director
Donald I. Baird, MD, Health Officer

Oral Health

The Need
Dental disease is the most common chronic childhood disease; more frequent than hayfever and the common cold. In local schools with low-income populations, approximately 30% of children have untreated caries (cavities).

How We Responded
A diverse group of dental advocates-private practice dentists, dental clinic providers, non-profit organizations, schools and local foundations-convened in February of 2000 to address the oral health needs of Humboldt County’s children, youth and pregnant women. In July, 2001, this “Dental Advisory Group (DAG)” conducted a needs assessment and developed the strategic plan found in “Humboldt County Children’s Oral Health Report.”

Members of the DAG, through the Circle of Smiles Partnership, focus on the following areas:
  • education
  • Access and treatment
  • Partnerships for prevention

Highlights of DAG accomplishments include:
  • TOOTH (Teaching Oral Optimism Throughout Humboldt) program providing oral health education to children
  • The hospital based dentistry program
  • Mobile dental services treating children at local school sites and outlying areas
  • Sealants and Smiles program providing no-cost sealants to low-income children
  • Water fluoridation campaign
  • Holiday Funding Partnership-including oral health supplies in community food baskets
  • The Well Child Dental Visit/Fluoride Varnish Clinic partnership with Maternal Child and Adolescent Health (MCAH), Public Health Nursing, and WIC
  • Oral health educational magnet placed in breastfeeding support bags offered to all new parents at time of delivery
  • A brochure for children and their families, “What to Expect at the Dentist”
  • Oral health practices/needs survey of local dentists, obstetricians and pediatricians

The MCAH Oral Health Coordinator works to improve oral health for children, youth and pregnant women by:
  • Identifying disparities and gaps in oral health service and working with DAG to address the needs of the community.
  • Raising provider and community awareness about oral health issues.
  • Working with local, state and national foundations to ensure funding for local oral health initiatives.
  • Overseeing the Well Child Dental Visit/Fluoride Varnish clinics.
  • Maintaining the listing of dental providers that accept MediCal and Healthy Families Dental Insurance.
  • Facilitating the DAG.

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