April 4 – 10 is National Public Health Week, a great opportunity to talk about building #healthy communities and how oral health and health equity is an important part of that conversation. Although the oral health of Americans has improved over the years, not everyone has the same opportunity to achieve optimal oral health. The situation worsens for those most vulnerable, especially children and older adults. We believe that if we truly want to build a healthy community, oral health and health equity must be a part of the conversation.
According to the most recent Smile Survey
The ABCD Program, Access to Baby & Child Dentistry, which was started in Spokane and has been replicated across the state, is one way we are working to create health equity for low income children. The program matches Medicaid-eligible children, ages 0-6, to a dentist. Children receive dental examinations, fluoride varnish, parent education and restorative care as needed. More than 100 dentists in Spokane County are certified to participate in the ABCD program. ABCD staff work closely with dentists and parents, ensuring children receive essential preventative dental care and that parents have the knowledge and resources to promote good oral health habits at home.
Public health is what we do together as a society to ensure the conditions in which everyone can be healthy, including oral health. We are increasingly working with others in the broader health system to address the social determinants of health. Every child deserves to grow up in a community that values and supports healthy development. We believe that schools, community centers, businesses, the faith community, and other local stakeholders have important roles to play. This is why we are pleased to partner with #Smile Spokane and the evolving local oral health impact network that is growing out of the efforts of Smile Spokane over the past two years. We are looking forward to working with the Smile Spokane partners to educate the community on the importance of oral health for overall health, and to explore cross-sector efforts to reduce health disparities.
Torney Smith, Spokane Regional Health District Administrator, and Smile Spokane Partner
Smile Spokane guest author