One in five children ages 5 to 11, and one in seven adolescents ages 12 to 19 years, have at least one untreated decayed tooth. In fact, tooth decay is the most common preventable chronic disease among children in the U.S. and if left untreated, can cause impediments to both physical and social development. Cavities can cause pain, impact a child’s ability to speak or eat, distract from learning, and affect academic performance. The good news is that with routine dental care and healthy oral health habits, tooth decay can be easily mitigated. However, due to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE), millions of children may have missed important routine dental care. In fact, there were 12.6 million fewer dental services when comparing the PHE period from March 2020 – May 2021 to data from March 2018 – May 2019. Routine oral health care continues to be the best way to detect issues early and prevent tooth decay and other ailments.
A key benefit under Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is that children up to age 19 have coverage for wide-ranging dental services, including check-ups, x-rays, fluoride treatments, dental sealants, fillings, and more. The Connecting Kids to Coverage National Campaign emphasizes the importance of good oral health care routines throughout the year and encourages families to reach out to their providers to catch up on any missed care during the PHE. Here are some ways organizations can encourage enrollment and promote oral hygiene in their communities:
- Share the Dentist Locator: The Connecting Kids to Coverage National Campaign provides the Dentist Locator to help beneficiaries find a dentist that accepts Medicaid and CHIP in their area. For children with special needs, there is a dental care factsheet that includes recommendations for supports when bringing a child to the dentist and advice on locating a dentist.
- Spread the word with ready-to-use enrollment materials: The Campaign has developed oral health outreach tools, animated videos, template newsletter blurbs, social media posts, and more! These materials are available in English and Spanish.
- Encourage healthy habits at home: Take a look at the Oral Health Initiative page for resources including ready-to-use posters, flyers, and tear-pads to share with families with tips on establishing routines at home, such as brushing teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, limiting sugary foods and drinks, and including substantial sources of calcium in their children’s diets.
Thank you for your support to keep kids healthy and smiling bright.
Available Now – “Supporting Smiles: Promoting Childhood Dental Benefits Covered Under Medicaid and CHIP” Webinar Recording
The recording, slides and transcript for the Campaign’s February 15, 2022 webinar, “Supporting Smiles: Promoting Childhood Dental Benefits Covered Under Medicaid and CHIP” are now available at InsureKidsNow.gov.
This presentation features CMS’ Chief Dental Officer, Dr. Natalia Chalmers, as well as Dr. Jane Grover from the American Dental Association and two HEALTHY KIDS grantees. New data on oral health trends among children and best practices to get families enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP were discussed, as well as the impact of the PHE on dental care, inequities in oral health and the importance of reaching diverse populations, community outreach during COVID-19, the importance of teledentistry and much more.
Current & Upcoming Observances:
- National Children’s Dental Health Month (February)
- American Heart Month (February)
- Give Kids A Smile Day (2/4)
- National Toothache Day (2/9)
- Valentine’s Day (2/14)
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.