Delta Dental of South Dakota Trains Health Care Providers to Fight Childhood Tooth Decay through Partners for Prevention

Healthy mouths are important even for babies and young children. That’s why leading dentistry and health organizations recommend children see a dentist by age 1.

But many kids aren’t getting to the dentist that early. On average, kids in South Dakota don’t visit the dentist until age 3.  But they may see their medical provider up 12 times by age 3 for well-child appointments

That’s why Delta Dental of South Dakota (DDSD) works with health care providers to include oral health care in early childhood visits to the doctor. The program is called Partners for Prevention, and the goal is to prevent cavities for our state’s youngest kids age 5 and under.

DDSD’s Registered Dental Hygienists provide oral health care training to a wide range of health care practitioners:

  • In primary care medical offices;
  • SD Dept. of Health’s community health nurses; and
  • Medical assisting and nursing students at programs including the University of South Dakota, South Dakota State University, Dakota Wesleyan University, and Lake Area Technical Institute.

In addition to general oral health information, these partners in prevention are trained to apply fluoride varnish to kids who may be at high risk of cavities.  The quick and easy dental treatment – a liquid painted on teeth – prevents cavities by making tooth enamel stronger.

In 2018, we trained 498 new health care partners in prevention at 36 training sessions across the state. Another 522 partners were trained in 2017.

Tooth decay is the #1 chronic disease of childhood. It’s also nearly 100% preventable. That makes every partner important to make sure kids have healthy smiles.

Learn more about DDSD’s other efforts to improve oral health for young children: