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Oral Health

Although tooth decay is nearly 100% preventable, it is the leading chronic infectious disease affecting children. Almost all children and adolescents have gingivitis, an early stage of periodontal disease; however, children with diabetes are at increased risk for periodontitis, an irreversible stage of periodontal disease increasing the risk of permanent tooth damage. On average, 51 million school hours per year are lost to dental-related illnesses in the US.

Oral Health has become a recent priority area for the ACCORDS Child Program, with projects focusing both on reducing early childhood caries in low-income children and periodontal disease in adolescents with diabetes. The emergence of this priority has been aligned with oral health movements in Colorado and the nation. ACCORDS researchers (Drs. Braun, Daley and Morrato) have been working directly with local foundations and the National Institute of Dental Cranial Research (NIDCR) on multiple projects. All projects involve vulnerable populations at high risk for dental disease. Innovative ideas being evaluated include the provision of preventive dental care by medical providers at well child checks, the co-location of dental hygienists into medical offices, and the incorporation of oral preventive health into Head Start classrooms. These evaluations stand to change how preventive oral health is provided to patients and the policies that govern the care. 

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