Oral Health

BVCS Early Childhood Iowa contracts with local Maternal/Child Health providers in Buena Vista, Crawford and Sac Counties to provide oral health screening, fluoride varnish, oral hygiene instruction, and care coordination for preschool children ages 3-5 years, so they can be free from oral disease which can enhance their ability to succeed in school.

Maternal Child Health programs promote the development of local systems of care for pregnant women, children from birth through age 21, and their families.  Maternal Child Health programs provide services that are family-centered, community based, collaborative, comprehensive flexible, coordinated, culturally competent, and developmentally appropriate.  The purpose of Maternal Child Health programs is to promote the health of mothers and children by ensuring access to quality services, especially for low-income families or families with limited availability of health services, including oral health care.

I-Smile is one of the Maternal Child Health programs.  The I-Smile Dental Home Initiative helps connect Iowa’s children with dental services.  I-Smile was created by the Iowa Department of Public Health, the Iowa Department of Human Services, the University Of Iowa College Of Dentistry, and the Iowa Dental Association.  I-Smile has four objectives:  improve the dental Medicaid Program; recruit and retain dentists in underserved areas; incorporate dental clinic within rural hospitals; and improve the dental support system for families.

For local Maternal Child Health providers, the major focus for I-Smile has been on improving the dental support system for families.  The role of the I-Smile Coordinator was developed for this task.  Each coordinator is a licensed dental hygienist that serves as the point-of-contact for public health agencies, families, dental providers, school districts, and health care providers.  Additional health professional, such as registered nurses, are also an integral part of a network providing oral screenings, education, and preventative services to assure that all children receive care.  Ultimately, at-risk children who are currently excluded from the dental care system will be reached and will obtain a dental home.

The local Maternal Child Health providers in Buena Vista, Crawford and Sac Counties wrote proposals and received funds from the BVCS Early Childhood Iowa area board to promote the health of children by ensuring access to quality oral health services through the provision of screenings, fluoride varnish applications, oral hygiene education and care coordination for children attending preschool program in the three counties.Educating parents and children about the importance of oral health and prevention of oral diseases, rather than treatment after the fact, is critical to creating a lifetime of healthy smiles.  Parental education strengthens oversight of home care and increases prevention opportunities.  Attitudes and habits established at an early age can last a lifetime.

Tooth decay, also known as dental caries, is still one of the most preventable childhood diseases.  Dental caries is an infectious, transmissible disease that unchecked can result in loss of tooth structure, pain, and tooth loss and can progress to acute systemic infection.  Young children with significant dental problems are often distracted by their pain and unable to focus on learning.  Dental disease inhibits learning, speech, and nutrition, causing more the 51 million lost school hours each year in the United States.

I-Smile Coordinator contact information: 

Buena Vista and Sac Counties: Cindy Partlow, RDH
Webster County Health Department
723 1st Ave South, Suite 220
Fort Dodge, IA

Crawford County: Jennifer Macke, RDH
Crawford County Home Health, Hospice & Public Health
105 N Main
Denison, IA 51442