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Maternal & Infant Oral Health Program of Ventura County
Proposition 10 and the First 5 Commission
Proposition 10, the California Children and Families Act of 1998, creates a funding stream to provide early childhood development services. This California initiative created an additional tobacco tax and directed that all the funds be used to provide for all children prenatal to five years of age, a comprehensive, integrated system of early childhood development services. These services, administered in each county by â First 5â Commissions, enhance the emotional, physical and intellectual foundation for every child to enter school ready to learn and develop the potential to become productive, well-adjusted members of society.
The Maternal and Infant Oral Health Program of Ventura is a collaborative, funded by the Children & Families First Commission of Ventura County, or â First 5â .
Maternal and Infant Oral Health Program: Goals and Objectives
The ultimate goal of the program is to improve the oral health and well being of Ventura Countyâ s children. Dental caries (tooth decay) is the single greatest untreated health problem in children in California. This program is designed to result in an overall reduction in caries prevalence for those children at the highest risk of this infection in Ventura County. By increasing the availability and accessibility of dental care for both pregnant women and mothers of very young children, as well as for their infants and toddlers, and by providing appropriate information which will give mothers the tools they need to raise healthier babies, the program will help to ensure that young children entering preschool and kindergarten will do so with optimal oral health and a heightened readiness and ability to learn.
The Program: Description
The centerpiece of the Maternal and Infant Oral Health Program is a state of the art mobile clinic. The clinic will provide enhanced access for pregnant women and mothers of very young children, by visiting the Womenâ s, Infant and Children Centers (WIC) located throughout the county. The 20,000 clients of the WIC program have been identified as among the highest risk group in need of dental services. The clinic will visit other sites as well, including targeted Neighborhood for Learning Centers in strategic areas.
A team of dentists, dental assistants, and health educators will staff the clinic, providing preventive, diagnostic and restorative care for pregnant women and mothers of very young children, while also providing educational information and counseling mothers on how to provide the best home care for their babies teeth and gums.
The young children will receive screening and risk assessment, utilizing a variety of preventive and interceptive protocols, in an attempt to identify and arrest the caries process at its earliest stage. Appropriate referrals will be made for children identified with further treatment needs.
The Mobile Dental Clinic
The dental clinic has two complete treatment rooms, and features a â lookâ which is inviting, designed to reduce anxiety, and to encourage patients to seek care with confidence and in comfort. All educational materials are offered in Spanish and English. Patients will receive personal counseling by trained health educators, complemented by a series of videos and supporting materials especially designed and produced by the Oral Health Coalition for this purpose.
Oral health assessment will be supported by digital dental radiographs (x-rays), comprehensive examination, saliva testing, and risk assessment protocols.
Where appropriate, patients will receive restorative dental care, prophylaxis (cleaning), as well as prescriptions for preventive home therapies including fluoride applications, chlorhexidine rinses, and xylitol chewing gum.
As part of assessment for infants and young children, mothers will be taught proper home care techniques in hygiene, as well as various dietary considerations.
Pregnant Women and Young Mothers: The Rationale
Extensive new research confirms that dental caries in young children is a bacterial infection transmitted in infancy from mother to child. A mother with a history of dental problems, especially if untreated, is most likely to transmit the caries-causing bacteria to her baby as early as six months of age, but especially between 19 and 31 months of age. Simple practices such as sharing a toothbrush, tasting the babyâ s food, kissing, etc., can contribute to the passing of these bacteria from mother to infant.
Reducing the level of bacteria in mothers identified as â high riskâ (through saliva testing and other risk assessment techniques), by providing oral prophylaxis (cleaning), oral hygiene instruction, restoring caries, and using various home regimens such as xylitol chewing gum, and chlorhexidine or fluoride rinses, will result in healthier babies with a lower level of dental caries throughout their lives. This is especially enhanced by the motherâ s heightened awareness of the role she can now play in helping her children achieve optimal oral health.
Children: Prenatal to Five Years of Age
Children who exhibit the earliest indications of high risk for caries will be treated in the clinic with applications of fluoride varnish, which has been shown to be an effective preventive measure in very incipient (early) cases of enamel decalcification, the first stage in the dental caries process. Counseling of the mother will attempt to identify high-risk behaviors at home, which can then be modified, and follow-up visits will be scheduled to monitor progress.
Children who are identified with active caries in need of restoration or other treatment, will be referred to one of the four Clinicas Del Camino Real, Inc. dental centers around the county for treatment. Those children in need of specialty care by pediatric dentists, sometimes involving sedation or general anesthesia, will be referred to specialists in the county for care.
- Jill Mellor
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