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"Mommy It Hurts to Chew"

The Dental Health Foundation (now the Center for Oral Health), in partnership with CDAF, Department of Health Services, Office of Oral Health and Maternal and Child Health Branch and CDHA, screened over 20,000 children in kindergarten and third grade to determine the oral health status of children in California.

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Overview

In 1993-94, the Dental Health Foundation (now the Center for Oral Health) conducted the first ever statewide oral health needs assessment (OHNA) funded by the California Department of Health Services, Maternal and Child Health Branch and the California Wellness Foundation. This study revealed that California’s children were experiencing an epidemic of oral disease.

The 2006 California Smile Survey was an effort to update the first needs assessment and to provide the baseline data for an ongoing statewide surveillance system.

During the 2004-2005 school year, 204 elementary schools throughout California were randomly selected for oral health screenings. Ninety-one percent of the schools (186) agreed to the screenings. Trained dental examiners completed 21,399 screenings using the diagnostic criteria developed and published by the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors (Basic Screening Surveys: An Approach to Monitoring Community Oral Health, www.astdd.org). They collected five indicators for each child screened –decayed teeth, filled teeth, presence of dental sealants, history of rampant decay (decay experience on 7 or more teeth), and treatment urgency.  In addition, parents were asked to complete an optional questionnaire that asked about dental insurance, time since last dental visit, trouble accessing dental care, participation in the free or reduced price lunch program (FRPL), and race.

The findings from this survey were released in February, 2006 in the report: "Mommy, It Hurts to Chew” as well as through seven simultaneous press conferences in Eureka, Sacramento, Oakland, Santa Cruz, Fresno, Los Angeles and San Diego. Additionally, three counties, Alameda, Fresno and Orange County, and one city, Long Beach, conducted local screenings and issued reports.

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