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Early childhood oral health


Oral health is important for a child's health, even in early childhood.

Baby teeth are important. They help children chew and speak properly and hold space for permanent teeth. Untreated cavities in baby teeth can mean premature loss of them and the decay can affect emerging permanent teeth.

We're proud to encourage early childhood oral health through a pair of programs.

New Smile Kits

There’s nothing more joyous than welcoming a new baby into the world. It makes everyone smile. 

To help those new smiles stay healthy, we provide a free infant toothbrush, adult toothbrush and infant oral health information to moms of newborns before they leave the hospital.

The New Smile Kit project began with hospitals in Sioux Falls, and has expanded to include partnerships with hospitals in Brookings, Chamberlain, Huron, Mobridge, Pierre, Rapid City, Sisseton, Spearfish, Vermillion, Watertown and Winner.

The project now includes about 85% of the maternity wards in South Dakota, with the goal of eventually reaching all of the more than 12,000 children born in South Dakota every year.

Dentist By 1

Leading dentistry and oral health organizations recommend children see a dentist within 6 months of getting their first tooth and no later than age 1.

Visiting the dentist by age 1 helps parents learn to care for their child’s emerging teeth to avoid painful cavities and more expensive oral care later. The child and parent get to know the dentist and it helps the child become comfortable at the dentist’s office. It’s the dental version of a medical well-baby check.

Our Dentist By 1 project encourages early childhood visits to the dentist by care providers and parents.

Each year, we survey all dentists in South Dakota to create a list of those who welcome young children in their practice.  We provide the list to pediatricians and child care organizations with tips on oral care for babies and the importance of early childhood dental visits.

A public service campaign to educate parents about early childhood dental visits includes a special DentistBy1.com website with the list of participating dentists and other educational material, and television ads during morning children's programming on South Dakota Public Broadcasting.