Oral Health

The Maine Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (Maine AAP) works to improve children's oral health through communication and collaboration between medical and dental homes. We aim to make pediatricians and other child health professionals an essential part of the oral health care team in Maine practices. Nationally, through the AAP ‘Section on Oral Health’, and locally via our Chapter Champion for Oral Health, we provide education, training, and advocacy for pediatricians, other health professionals, and families.


We partner in Maine with the Partnership for Children's Oral Health and From the First Tooth.

Past Program: Managing and Preventing Oral Health Emergencies during the Pandemic

View Recording Slides From the First Tooth - handout

This webinar featured a case study by a pediatrician, two dentists sharing resources and strategies for dealing with dental emergencies and tips for early intervention, another community based pediatrician discussing prevention in the well child visit and an overview of upcoming policy/legislation featuring a Maine Representative.

Other Important Resources:

Section on Oral Health: The Section on Oral Health website for pediatric providers includes tools to help incorporate oral health into practice and links to education, training, and advocacy. Resources such as the Oral Health Risk Assessment tool (English and Spanish), state Medicaid reimbursement table, and information for families can all be found here.

Oral Health Prevention Primer is designed to help pediatricians and others address oral health in practice, understand the roles of oral health allies, and learn how to collaborate and advocate to achieve optimal oral health for their communities. (An accompanying PowerPoint presentation is available upon request.) The OHPP expands on the information on the Section on Oral Health site with links to material on teaching other providers about oral health, collaboration in communities, innovative medical-dental integration models, and quality improvement.

Brush, Book, Bed Implementation Guide is made up of resources and tools on oral health, early literacy, and sleep for pediatricians, dentists, and other health care providers. It addresses children from 6 months to 6 years with a bedtime program for parents that links early literacy, sleep, and toothbrushing.

Campaign for Dental Health is a website (English and Spanish) with information on community water fluoridation for parents, health care providers, and the general public. The purpose of the site is to offer evidence-based information and resources in an easy-to-read, informative manner.

Smiles for Life: A National Oral Health Curriculum consists of eight 60-minute modules covering core areas of oral health relevant to health professionals. It is a widely-respected educational tool for non-dental professionals.

Oral Health Progress and Equity Network: The Oral Health Progress and Equity Network (OPEN) is a community of oral health stakeholders around the country working to improve oral health equity through a variety of methods. OPEN creates original resources on a number of topics, from advocating for a Medicare dental benefit to improving oral health data collection and surveillance, all through an equity lens.

National AAP Resources: https://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/Oral-Health/Pages/Education-and-Training.aspx

From the First Tooth

Maine’s From the First Tooth (FTFT) is an initiative funded by the Partnership for Children’s Oral Health. FTFT aims to improve the oral health of Maine’s children from the eruption of a child’s first tooth through the age of five by implementing an evidence-based preventive oral health approach in the medical home. Oral health is a part of overall health, so it is important for medical providers to play a key role in preventing childhood caries. FTFT encourages pediatricians and family medicine providers to incorporate the following steps into well-child visits:

  • Oral health risk assessment
  • Fluoride varnish application to help prevent childhood caries*
  • Parent/caregiver education
  • Referrals to dental homes for routine or more immediate care as needed

*Research shows that children who receive at least four fluoride applications before age four have lower rates of tooth decay

Read more/download a one page brochure.

From the First Tooth Links:

2021 Poster - Maine Public Health Association Conference

2019 Partnership for Children’s Oral Health Data Brief: databrief.pdf (mainepcoh.org)

Link to request From the First Tooth Parent Education Materials: Order Materials | From the First Tooth

Link to request a From the First Tooth Toolkit: From the First Tooth Toolkit Request Form (smartsheet.com)

2021 From the First Tooth Poster - MPHA Conference

Kids Oral Health Partnership

Engages and trains non-dental providers in Maine for better oral health outcomes in very young children. Training and tools for oral health risk assessment, culturally and linguistically appropriate materials, and help in referring to dental providers

The American Academy of Pediatrics released today: Fluoride Remains a Powerful Tool to Prevent Tooth Decay

Long before a baby’s first tooth erupts, the pediatrician can start guiding families on how to develop healthy oral health habits, including optimal use of fluoride to prevent decay

The most common chronic disease of early childhood is responsible for millions of school hours lost each year due to illness -- and it is largely preventable.

Dental caries, or tooth decay, disproportionately affects poor, young, Black and Hispanic populations, and children with special healthcare needs. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified health inequities, as dental visits and well child care visits declined significantly.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recognizes that pediatricians are uniquely positioned to provide oral health guidance to families and apply fluoride varnish to prevent disease in an updated clinical report, “Fluoride Use in Caries Prevention in the Primary Care Setting.” The report, from the AAP Section on Oral Health, marks the first update in recommendations since 2014 and is published in the December 2020 Pediatrics (published online Nov. 30).

“Fluoride has consistently been proven effective at preventing tooth decay, which, when left untreated, can lead to pain, loss of teeth and serious infections,” said Melinda B. Clark, MD, FAAP, lead author of the report. “Pediatricians can prevent dental disease by applying fluoride varnish, counseling families on nutrition and how to care for their children’s teeth and referring to a dentist.”

The clinical report helps pediatricians maximize the use of fluoride for caries prevention while minimizing the risk of enamel fluorosis, a largely cosmetic condition that can cause discoloration of the teeth.

The AAP recommends that pediatricians:

  • Perform oral health risk assessments on all children at every routine well-child visit beginning at 6 months of age.
  • Recommend use of fluoridated toothpaste starting at eruption of the first tooth. A smear or grain of rice sized amount is recommended for children younger than 3 years, and a pea-sized amount of toothpaste is appropriate for most children starting at 3 years of age.
  • Apply fluoride varnish according to the recommended periodicity schedule. Fluoride varnish is a proven tool in early childhood caries prevention.
  • Know how to determine the concentration of fluoride in a child’s primary drinking water and determine the need for systemic supplements.
  • Advocate for water fluoridation in the local community.
  • Understand indications for silver diamine fluoride and be able to recognize the clinical appearance of teeth treated with silver diamine fluoride, which is a minimally invasive, low-cost liquid solution that is painted on cavity lesions.

“Families can help children adopt healthy habits from a very young age with simple routines, including the appropriate use of fluoride to prevent dental disease,” Dr. Clark said. “We encourage parents to talk to their pediatricians about getting fluoride varnish at their well child visit and how much fluoride toothpaste to use for their children.”