The concept of the pre-dental home is quite simple. It is an “early screening” program that helps triage young patients (ages 0-5) with varying levels of need. Pre-dental homes are not intended to serve as a child’s long-term dental home but are designed to create accessible and affordable opportunities for screening and preventive oral healthcare for children and coaching for parents. Components include education for caregivers about preventive dental health practices, a risk assessment for the child, delivery of preventive care, and direct referrals to willing dentists for children with immediate oral health needs. First Teeth Matter was invented in Idaho in 2014 within Central District Health and is an appointment-based program designed to help parents understand oral health and help create good oral hygiene habits that eliminate early childhood caries. Program hygienists use a caries risk assessment to help identify the risk levels and any concerning behaviors. Through motivational interviewing, parents receive individualized coaching and are empowered to make positive changes for the children. Simple screening exams and fluoride varnish applications are included at each visit. Based on individual needs and risk levels, referrals are established with pediatric or general dentists.
• Objective 1: Understand what is a Pre-Dental Home.
• Objective 2: Understand the need for a Pre-Dental Home.
• Objective 3: Understand how can we use this information and make a difference (i.e., how another public health districts or dental affiliate could replicate a Pre-Dental Home model).
Susan Ellis, RDH-EA, is the oral health program manager for Central District Health (CDH) in the Boise area. She attended Idaho State University where received her bachelor’s degree in Dental Hygiene. She has been a dental hygienist for 34 years and has worked in public health for the last 11. Ellis is an examiner for the Western Regional Examination Board and is an active member of the Idaho Oral Health Alliance where she serves on the steering committee for the Healthy Me Is Cavity-Free Collaborative and chairs the Pre-Dental Home Committee. Her heart is with children and she loves her job in public health because it allows her a chance to serve little kids. She is proud to manage the First Teeth Matter program within CDH. She enjoys exercising, outdoor activities, trying new things, and being with her family which includes five grandchildren.