Overall health is closely connected to healthy gums, teeth, tongue, and mouth.

According to the Center for Pediatric Dentistry, early checkups help prevent cavities and tooth decay, which can lead to pain, trouble concentrating and other medical issues.  Children with healthy teeth chew food easily, learn to speak clearly and smile with confidence

Caring for the oral health of our children involves a team of professionals that work across the community.

In collaboration with the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH), Head Start Collaboration Office, and Hawaii Head Start and Early Head Start programs, HCAN conducted a statewide oral health screening project.

The project started in October 2017 and focused on Hawaii keiki who are most at risk for cavities, builds upon the foundation set by the DOH’s Hawaii Smiles statewide third-grade screening project in 2016.

The current project looked at younger children and included an oral health screening for every child enrolled in the Head Start and Early Head Start programs.  Altogether, more than 2,900 children at more than 100 Head Start and Early Head Start sites statewide received a dental screening in this school year. 

The health department will use this data on the oral health of these young children to inform the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and develop policies and programs to improve the oral health of children across Hawaii.

The Hawaii Smiles statewide screening team is composed of dentists and dental hygienists from the public and private sectors who will evaluate the extent of cavities in these children, provide oral health educational materials for parents and teachers, and offer recommendations for follow-up dental care.