Interprofessional oral health initiative in a nondental, American Indian setting

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Background and purpose:Tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease and American Indian (AI) children are at increased risk. Pediatric primary care providers are in an opportune position to reduce tooth decay. The purpose of this study was to integrate and evaluate a pediatric oral health project in an AI, pediatric primary care setting.Methods:The intervention set included caregiver education, caries risk assessment, and a same-day dental home referral. All caregiver/child dyads age birth to 5 years presenting to the pediatric clinic were eligible (n = 47).Conclusions:Most children (n = 35, 91.1%) were scored as high risk for caries development. Of those with first tooth eruption (n = 36), ten had healthy teeth (27.8%) and seven had seen a dentist in the past 3 months (19.4%). All others were referred to a dentist (n = 29) and 21 families (72.4%) completed the referral.Implications for practice:In fewer than 5 min per appointment (x = 4.73 min), the primary care provider integrated oral health screening, education, and referral into the well-child visit. Oral health is part of total health, and thus should be incorporated into routine well-child visits.

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