The Dental Public Health Program provides services to prevent early childhood dental disease, including dental screening, risk assessments and information.
Dental Public Health services are for children 0 to 5 and include:
- a 12-month risk assessment for tooth decay
- dental screening
- oral health information
- fluoride application
- kindergarten dental screening
- oral health education to various groups in the community (upon request)
This dental program also provides assistance to people living with developmental disability through the Dental Health Services for Community Living Program.
What to expect
All services are provided at specific locations such as Public Health Units or Community Health Centres and in outreach settings. VCH dental services are free at most locations, except for the Vancouver program, depending on eligibility.
Dental health resources
Children's teeth are important info sheet
Canada Dental Benefit
Healthy Kids Program
Video: Tooth brushing for children 3 and under
Canada's Food Guide
Brushing and flossing instructions brochure
Dental care during pregnancy
Dental care and teething for toddlers
Dental care for preschoolers
Dental care for school-age children
Basic dental care
Find a dentist - BC Dental Association
Kindergarten dental screening
VCH Public Health does kindergarten dental screening as part of a province-wide program from the Ministry of Health every three years. This quick check does not replace regular check-ups by your family dentist.
As part of this screening, the Dental Public Health team looks at each child’s teeth to find and help children who have dental problems, which can affect their learning. The information about your child’s dental check will be recorded in a child’s health record at the Health Unit. The information collected is to support client referral and follow up and to evaluate the dental program by VCH and at a provincial level. You can see a copy of the latest provincial report online.
Information from this screening stays private. We collect, use and share this information only as allowed by law – the BC Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
If parents or guardians do not want their child to be screened, they will be given options to choose not to participate. Full details and dates will be sent to parents and caregivers before the screening date.
Importance of oral health
Oral health is not only important to your appearance and sense of well-being, but also to your overall health. Dental diseases may contribute to many serious conditions, including:
- heart disease
- respiratory diseases
- premature and low weight babies
Tooth decay can be painful and lead to serious infections. The discomfort of untreated tooth decay can affect children’s growth and learning.
Tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease and can be linked to serious health problems. It is important everyone practice good oral health from birth onwards. Tooth decay can be prevented with daily mouth care, use of fluoride, good nutrition and regular dental visits. The first dental visit should occur 6 months after a child’s first tooth comes in.