The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), the “Big Authority on Little Teeth,” has announced a rebranding of Healthy Smiles, Healthy Children, its charitable arm, as the AAPD Foundation. The nation’s largest dentist-led charity dedicated to children’s oral health has changed its name, but not its mission of helping disadvantaged children gain access to a dental home.
“This new name is simple, and our new tagline speaks to the passion and commitment we have for helping children access consistent dental care within their communities,” says Nick Rogers, DDS, AAPD Foundation president. The fresh look and name also serves as a key step in reaching the goal of providing dental homes to 1 million children by June 2022.
“Through our Access to Care initiatives, we are providing dental homes to a record number of children,” says Rogers. “We have awarded grants to 114 organizations nation-wide and are continuing until we have reached 1 million children.” Establishing a dental home is central to ensuring children receive patient-centered, comprehensive dental care. The AAPD recommends the first dental visit should take place when the first tooth erupts, and no later than the child’s first birthday, as it is the first step in preventing early childhood caries.
At that visit, clinicians will complete a caries risk assessment to tailor a preventive and management care plan to meet the patient’s individualized needs and risks. It also provides an opportunity to educate parents and caregivers about the importance of good oral hygiene and healthy dietary practices. The first dental visit by age 1 is crucial, as severe tooth decay in primary teeth can potentially damage permanent teeth, Rogers explains.
“Access to consistent care helps prevent tooth decay, which is one of the most common chronic diseases among children; however, it’s nearly 100% preventable,” says Rogers. “Children living at poverty levels are twice as likely as other children to suffer tooth decay and oral health problems, which is why the Access to Care grants are so crucial.”
More than 500,000 children have received dental care due to the foundation’s Access to Care initiatives. Since 2010, the foundation has given $6 million in grants and commitments, with $1.1 million in 2018 alone, to ensure children have a dental home.