Partners for Prevention

The Partners for Prevention program works with medical providers to include oral health care in well-child appointments. The program reaches approximately 150 clinicians and 120 students each year.

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.

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

That’s why we work 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.

Our Registered Dental Hygienists provide oral health care training to a wide range of health care practitioners in primary care medical offices and the SD Dept. of Health’s community health nurses.

The program also trains students in health care programs to ensure long-term sustainability and impact, including nursing and medical assisting students at Dakota Wesleyan University, Lake Area Technical College, Mount Marty University, South Dakota State University, Southeast Technical College, the University of South Dakota, and students at the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine.

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.

One notable outcome of the program is that the number of fluoride varnish applications for kids covered by Medicaid has more than tripled since 2017.

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

Each training is a 1-hour lunch-and-learn session and is provided at no cost. For more information about the program or to schedule a training session, contact Cori Jacobson at or 605-494-2552.