Good oral health is important to a child’s social, physical and mental development. Even though tooth decay can be prevented, most children in Arizona still get cavities. To assess the current oral health status of Arizona’s elementary school children, our Bureau of Women’s and Children’s Health, with support from First Things First, coordinated a statewide oral health survey of kindergarten and third grade children attending Arizona’s public schools.

The new report, Arizona Healthy Smiles Healthy Bodies Survey 2015, examines the oral health status and dental treatment needs of the state’s kindergarten and third grade children. Findings in the survey indicate that while Arizona has seen improvement in children’s access to dental care, many children are not getting the dental care they need. Compared to the general U.S. population, Arizona’s children are more likely to have experienced decay with significant oral health disparities in low-income and minority children.

To help keep kids’ teeth healthy, our Office of Oral Health administers the School-Based Dental Sealant Program. Dental sealants are tooth colored coatings that are painted on the biting surfaces of the back teeth. Sealants block food and decay-causing bacteria from entering the narrow grooves of the teeth where decay is most likely to occur. Other programs we administer to help prevent dental problems in children include the School-Based Fluoride Mouthrinse Program and the Arizona Flouride Varnish Program.