The North Carolina Head Start-State Collaboration Office and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) announced the launch of the Head Start Dental Home Initiative to improve oral health for North Carolina children.
The program links 22,000 children from birth to age 5 in the state’s Head Start and Early Head Start programs to local dentists who will provide them with a “dental home” that offers comprehensive, ongoing oral healthcare delivered in a family-centered way. It will also equip parents, caregivers and Head Start staff with the latest information on the prevention of tooth decay.
Part of a national AAPD and Head Start program, the initiative will also train teams of pediatric and general dentists and Head Start personnel in oral healthcare practices and assist Head Start programs in accessing services to meet the full range of children’s oral health needs.
“Access to oral health services is the No. 1 health issue affecting Head Start programs nationwide,” said North Carolina Dental Society president, Dr. Dan Cheek. “This program is extremely important to children in our state who previously had little or no access to oral health care.”
Khari Garvin, Director of the N.C. Head Start-State Collaboration Office, says the new program will be highly beneficial to at-risk children and families in North Carolina.
“This is especially true for rural areas and those part of the Migrant/Seasonal Head Start system,” Garvin said.