The Dental Public Health Children's Program provides dental checks and services to children aged 0 to 5 in community health centres and as part of kindergarten screenings in schools. Services at most locations are free.
If your child does not have access to a dental clinic where they can have their teeth checked regularly, you can make an appointment with the VCH Dental Public Health Children's Program.
VCH dental services are free at most VCH Dental Public Health program locations. Services, ages, eligibility, and costs at the Vancouver Public Health Children’s Dental Program are different from other VCH locations. Find details of the Vancouver Public Health Children’s Dental Program.
Importance of oral health
The Dental Public Health Program works to help prevent early childhood dental disease. Oral health is important to a child’s sense of well-being, appearance, and overall health. Dental diseases may contribute to many serious conditions, including
- heart disease,
- respiratory diseases, and
- premature and low weight babies.
Dental Public Health clinic appointments
During a Dental Public Health clinic appointment at a community health centre, the dental team will meet with you and your child to
- check their risk for tooth decay,
- do a dental screening,
- apply fluoride to their teeth,
- refer to other dental health programs (if needed) and
- give oral health information, such as tips on how to brush your child's teeth.
What is tooth decay?
Tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease and can be linked to serious health problems and can be painful. The discomfort of untreated tooth decay can affect children’s growth and learning. Tooth decay can be prevented with daily mouth care, using fluoride toothpaste, good nutrition, and regular dental visits.
Kindergarten dental screening in schools
Although kindergarten dental screenings may occur annually in the VCH region, a province-wide kindergarten dental screening program from the Ministry of Health occurs every three years. You can see a copy of the latest provincial report online.
During a kindergarten dental screening, the Dental Public Health team looks at each child’s teeth to find and help children with dental problems, which can affect their learning. These quick checks do not replace regular check-ups by a dentist.
After the screening, your child’s dental check information will be recorded in their health record. The information collected supports client referral and follow-up. The data helps to evaluate the VCH dental program at a local and provincial level. Information from these screenings stays private. We collect, use and share this information only as the law allows – the BC Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
If parents or guardians do not want their children screened, they will be given the option to choose not to participate. Full details and dates will be sent to parents and caregivers before the screening date.
Dental health tips and resources
Learn more about dental health with dental health resources, including information on
- how to brush your child’s teeth,
- how to prevent cavities,
- how to access a dental office, and
- how to access funding resources.