Inadequate access to dental care is a looming problem in the United States. Although programs such as Medicaid provide access to dental care for underprivileged children under the age of 19, utilization of dental care remains low in this population. This has been attributed to race, household income, parental education level and behavioral habits in the home. Additionally, many adults of low socioeconomic status (SES) are not covered by these programs and as a result, go without dental care. This creates an environment in which individuals of low-SES experience more dental caries, increased frequency of oral health related systemic disease and are often in need of extreme restorative dental procedures because they have missed out on preventative care. This problem is ravaging the nation, and Wenatchee, WA was found to be no exception. To address this problem, a program was designed that provides physician education regarding the importance of oral health and the tools needed to integrate “dental kick starts” into routine adult and pediatric office visits. During these visits, the patient will be educated about oral health and sent home with a packet containing the items they need to maintain a smile for life. This program is not meant to encourage patients to avoid dental visits, but ensures patients who are otherwise missed by the radar of the traditional dental system receive the preventative education they would as part of a routine dental check up. Encouraging positive oral health habits will decrease the number of caries and emergency dental interventions by teaching patients the basics of maintaining their teeth.
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