Children’s Dental Health Project
Early childhood caries (tooth decay) is the most prevalent chronic disease among U.S. children, affecting 11 percent of all two-year olds and 44 percent of all five-year olds. Poor, immigrant, and minority children are at especially high risk. Poor oral health leaves many children with cavities and untreated pain, which can cause problems in eating, learning, socialization, and sleep—and may result in tooth extractions and dental repair under general anesthesia. This project aims to improve oral health services for preschool-aged children in New York City through two approaches: 1) adapting an existing mobile dental education application for tablets, called MySmileBuddy, for use as a stand-alone smartphone application to assist parents in managing their children’s dental caries risk, and 2) developing recommendations for Medicaid payment mechanisms to enable health workers to receive reimbursement for engaging and counseling parents on managing early childhood caries.