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Think Teeth! Keep Kids Smiling Now and All Year Long

Cavities, also known as caries or tooth decay, are one of the most common chronic diseases among children, despite being largely preventable. In the United States, approximately 45% of kids and teens have either treated or untreated cavities. If left untreated, they can negatively affect a child's physical and social development, as well as school performance.

Healthy teeth are important year-round but National Children’s Dental Health Month (NCDHM) each February is an opportune moment for organizations to remind families about important dental services covered under Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). With health coverage under Medicaid and CHIP, which is free or low-cost depending on household size and income, families are able to access dental care for their children, such as check-ups, x-rays, fluoride treatments, dental sealants, and fillings, which can help keep kids on track to maintain good overall health.

Dentists recommend kids get a check-up every six months. However, recent data trends show a decline in use of oral health services among those already enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP due to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency and resulting safety measures in place to curb transmission. In fact, compared to data from the same time period last year (March through July 2019), preliminary 2020 data show a national average of 9.1 million (50%) fewer dental services among children covered under Medicaid and CHIP. Dental service utilization declined nationally but rates vary from state to state with service use higher in some states and lower in others. While families may have concerns about COVID-19 exposure in medical settings, leading experts, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Dental Association, are assuring families that the protective controls in place in dental settings keep risk low and are encouraging families who may have delayed or forgone dental care to catch up on missed appointments before untreated dental problems become more severe.

To promote healthy habits and ensure beneficiaries access services, the Connecting Kids to Coverage National Campaign created the “Think Teeth” oral health materials emphasizing the importance of dental coverage for children, teens, and expectant mothers. From customizable materials like select posters and palmcards to social media posts and graphics, the Campaign provides a range of free resources for organizations to use in outreach efforts now and throughout the year. Find the free “Think Teeth” materials on the Improving Oral Health page on InsureKidsNow.gov and explore our Outreach Tool Library for all materials developed by the Campaign. New materials are added to the website and made available on an ongoing basis so check back frequently for the latest!

New! Video Highlights Dental Health Benefits 

The Campaign’s latest animated video for families highlights the many dental health benefits that are available to children and teens through Medicaid and CHIP. The full animated video series can be found in the Outreach Tool Library under Public Service Announcements; other available videos focus on flu, vaccinations, and missed care with additional videos on the way!

Stay Connected with the Campaign 

  • Share our Campaign materials. Our ever-growing, multi-lingual Outreach Tool Library features a variety of targeted resources to use in your outreach and enrollment efforts, available in multiple formats.
  • Contact us. To get more involved with the Campaign, contact us via email at ConnectingKids@cms.hhs.gov.
  • Follow the Campaign on Twitter. Remember to re-tweet or share our messages from @IKNGov with your social network and be sure to use our #Enroll365 and #KidsEnroll hashtags in your posts.

Subscribe to the “Campaign Notes” eNewsletter

The Connecting Kids to Coverage National Campaign eNewsletter “Campaign Notes” is distributed throughout the year and provides updates on Campaign activities. If a friend or colleague forwarded this email to you, we invite you to sign up to receive this eNewsletter directly to your inbox.