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American Public Health Association
133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition
December 10-14, 2005
Philadelphia, PA
APHA 2005
3169.0: Monday, December 12, 2005 - 1:30 PM

Abstract #108375

Community Oral Health Specialists reduce caries in preschool children

Nancy M. Reifel, DDS, MPH, School of Dentistry, University of California, Los Angeles, Box 951668, 10833 Le Conte Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90095, 310-825-4320, nancyr@dent.ucla.edu and Kathy R. Phipps, DrPH, Oral Health Research Consultant, PO Box 1006, Morro Bay, CA 93443.

Rural Native Americans have been effective in community-based disease prevention since 1955 with the Navajo tuberculosis control effort. They have relied on the skills and knowledge of their own people to carry out these initiatives. We have drawn on these successes to design an oral health promotion program for preschool children. Our goal is to eliminate the disparity in preschool caries between Native Americans and the vast majority of American children. Tribal health departments hired community members to provide caries prevention services. The Community Oral Health Specialists (CHOS) completed an 80 hour training program that included both didactic and clinical sessions. The COHS became proficient in oral screening, oral health education, application of topical fluoride, and facilitating referrals. The tribal health department managed the day to day operations of the program. We are following a random sample of 400 children from two communities in order to evaluate the success of the program. Calibrated dental examiners performed baseline caries status exams. Twenty-month follow-up exams were completed at one of the communities. Children who were under 3 years old at the time they enrolled in the program were re-examined. Using baseline examinations as a comparison there was a 50% reduction in caries prevalence, a 50% reduction in untreated decay and a decrease in mean dmft. When armed with technical knowledge and skills, specially trained community members create and carry out a program effective in reducing early childhood caries. Grant Number: D1ARH00033 Office of Rural Health Policy, HRSA

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Community-Based Health Promotion, Oral Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: Topical fluoride varnish for the sole purpose of coronal caries prevention is an unlabeled use of this product in the United States.

I wish to disclose that I have NO financial interests or other relationship with the manufactures of commercial products, suppliers of commercial services or commercial supporters.

Maternal and Child Health issues for American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians

The 133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition (December 10-14, 2005) of APHA