The importance of oral health care for young children is being highlighted by the Livingston County Health Department.

“Livingston County’s Road To Community Health” was a series that broke down the results of the 2014 Community Health Assessment into smaller pieces so the community could focus on the implications of one health issue at a time. Since then, two workgroups have been working to address the identified public health issues – with a need for education and outreach regarding children’s dental health. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) and the American Dental Association (ADA) recommended that children should see a dentist within six months after their first tooth comes in, or by age 1. However most children don’t until they are much older, which increases their risk of tooth decay and other oral health problems later in life. The “Road to Community Health” issue on children’s oral health covers the importance of caring for a child’s oral health before baby teeth appear, bringing your child to the dentist by their first birthday and the benefits of establishing a dental home early in life.

LCHD Health Promotion Coordinator Natasha Radke tells WHMI the topic is an extension of the series and they wanted to promote it as a way for people to take in another health topic or issue that is relevant for Livingston County. Radke says children’s dental health is very important and actually starts a lot earlier than people believe. She says it sets stage for a lifetime of good oral health, which affects overall health so important to help children start good habits early in life to achieve their best health outcomes in childhood and throughout the rest of their life. Radke noted that in Livingston County, only 8.7% of children under the age of 2 and on Michigan Medicaid had at least one dental service in 2017. That’s below the state rate of 13.2%.

Meanwhile, the Health Department owns the Livingston Dental Center, which is operated by My Community Dental Centers and provides oral health care to all patients in need of a new dental home. The center focuses specifically on patients who are underserved or without insurance; those on Medicaid, Healthy Michigan Plan, or Healthy Kids; and those who have difficulty accessing dental services.

More information on the Road to Community Health series and children’s oral health is attached. (JM)