Pediatric Fluoride Varnish Project
The (first ever) 2000 Surgeon General’s Report on Oral Health indicates, dental caries is the most prevalent infectious disease in children and that is has a profound effect on the health of the nation’s children.
The National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research estimates that children will miss 52 million hours of school each year due to oral health problems.
Florida data shows that there is only one dentist per 9,747 Medicaid Children and only 10% of children under the age of 6 receive any dental services.
Medical team intervention is one proven strategy used in about 25 other states to deliver primary prevention. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that a dental screening can be incorporated into a pediatric practice.
The early and frequent contact that most young children typically have with physicians presents a unique opportunity to evaluate their oral condition and perform basic preventive services. Pediatric health care providers may be the only ones that can provide preventive oral health education for families of young children who lack access to a dental home.
Effective April 15, 2008 an application of the fluoride varnish as part of the preventive services for children who are at risk for early childhood caries (ECC) may be provided in a physician’s office combined with an oral evaluation for a child up to 3 years of age and billed through Medicaid four times a year.
With this in mind The Florida Public Health Institute (FPHI) will fund an initial pilot program utilizing, for the first time in Florida, a registered dental hygienist in a pediatricians practice to deliver preventive services. This initial project will be launched in Palm Beach County the later part of December 2009. The registered dental hygienist will perform oral assessments, referrals, home care, nutrition counseling and apply a topical fluoride varnish to all children at risk for developing ECC between the ages of 6 months to 3 years of age. The results of this project will greatly contribute to the evidence base of community oral health programs and the identification of best practices; results of which will have broad policy implications.
FPHI recognizes that the results of this project will impact oral health care practice in general. Therefore, in order to promote the systemic change for which this project advocates, the results should be disseminated not only locally, but statewide and nationally.