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Keep Kids Smiling!

April 17, 2017

Tooth decay in children is a common, chronic, consequential, and expensive disease. By age five, 50% of children have had at least one cavity, and once established, tooth decay can last a lifetime. Tooth decay can cause significant pain and serious infections, interfere with development, and lead to missed school days. The good news is that all children covered by Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) are all eligible to receive dental services. This includes check-ups, x-rays, fluoride treatments, dental sealants, fillings, and more.

Dental benefits remain a key motivator for parents to enroll their child in Medicaid and CHIP. Many organizations incorporate oral health activities into their outreach and enrollment efforts, including during National Children's Dental Health Month in February. The Connecting Kids to Coverage National Campaign's recent webinar featured practices from organizations using oral health benefits to connect eligible children to Medicaid and CHIP coverage.

Campaign in Action

The School-Based Health Alliance works with the 10 largest school districts in the country to help create, innovate, strengthen, and facilitate systems to incorporate oral health services into schools. Knowing that 51 million school hours are lost each year due to dental disease, the organization's school-based partnerships reinforce health messages around the importance of dental hygiene and care. These partnerships were the start to building a successful school oral health learning community. The partnerships have resulted in the Alliance launching a data portal to share activities and build a source for school oral health resources.

Smiles for a Lifetime connects children to oral health coverage and services by deploying a hands-on approach. Outreach workers serve as links to the community at local events and schools; assisting eligible children and families with enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP has consistently increased enrollment rates. This personal approach has also resulted in 14,636 patients being treated and 88,016 cavities being filled since 2001.

The Children's Dental Health Project (CDHP) shares dental coverage-related messaging with partners and eligible families on social media. CDHP works oral health messaging into its regular social media and creates engaging digital content like quizzes, images, and other multimedia materials to promote oral health in an interactive way.

We want to hear your success story!

Has oral health messaging motivated families in your community to enroll in Medicaid and CHIP? We'd like to learn how your organization is connecting kids to coverage and using Campaign materials on the ground! Share your stories with the Campaign via email at ConnectingKids@cms.hhs.gov or Twitter using #ThinkTeeth, #Enroll365, and #KidsEnroll in tweets. Be sure to include any tactics for outreach and enrollment using oral health information and benefits with families in your community and activities that you are planning or have used in recent years!