oral-hygiene-2-brazza.jpg

Oral Health

Programs, Projects and Contracts

In Thurston County, CHOICE Regional Health Network is working to improve access to oral health care. We work with families to schedule dental appointments, and we support providers to meet the needs of the community. CHOICE has worked with over 200 oral health care providers on trainings for children, trauma-informed practices, safe opioid prescribing practices, treating patients with chronic disease, and meeting the needs of pregnant patients.

By participating in programs like Access to Baby and Child Dentistry (ABCD), Oral Health Connections (OHC), DentistLink, and the Thurston Oral Health Network (TOHN), CHOICE is helping to increase access to dental care for everyone in the community.

father-holding-son-brushing-teeth-together.jpg

Access to Baby & Child Dentistry (ABCD) 
Oral Health Connections (OHC) Training for Dentists

The Access to Baby and Child Dentistry (ABCD) program is a preventative early childhood dental program serving children between the ages of 0 and 6 with Apple Health (Medicaid) as their primary insurance.  ABCD puts young children on a lifelong path to good oral health. ABCD connects low-income families with dentists who know how to care for young kids, preventing tooth decay early and educating parents about how to take good care of their children’s teeth.

Many parents believe that the health of baby teeth is not all that important because they fall out, and are replaced by permanent teeth, but that transition takes 10-12 years.  Baby teeth serve the following important functions:

  • Helps shape a child's face

  • Helps a child develop proper speech

  • Maintains space and guides permanent teeth into place

  • Helps a child chew food, the first step in digestion and a prerequisite to nutrient absorption

Parents or providers referring clients: Please download, print and complete the PDF form, then fax to (360) 943-1164.  Or scan and email to  abcd@crhn.org

By focusing on a child's oral health with their first tooth around their first birthday, families can establish a good routine of dental care that will carry them through their formative years to adulthood.  For more information and assistance with enrollment, contact Katrin Palmer at palmerk@crhn.org  or by calling (360) 539-7576 and ask for extention 103.

Children with poor oral health often turn into adults with poor oral health, who then pass along oral disease to their children.  But this cycle can be broken even before birth by addressing the oral health of the mother.  Improving a pregnant woman's oral health status can prevent pregnancy complications such as pre-eclampsia and pre-term birth and low birth weight of the newborn.  Additionally, chronic and inflammatory health conditions such as diabetes can be exacerbated by poor oral health.

Our program, Oral Health Connections (OHC) trains and certifies dentists to care for the needs of pregnant and diabetic patients between the ages of 21 and 64 who are covered by Medicaid.  These certified dentists can receive Medicaid referrals and enhanced fees for certain procedures.  To learn more about this training program, dentists should contact Katrin Palmer at palmerk@crhn.org

Program Contact

Katrin_1.jpeg

Katrin Palmer, the Care Coordinator for ABCD (Thurston-Lewis) and Oral Health Connections (Thurston) enrolls eligible Apple Health-covered children and adults into each respective program. Clients are connected to participating dentists and are supported throughout their enrollment by helping them overcome barriers to accessing care. Katrin offers oral health and nutrition education and is available for oral health talks to families and community partners. She is an active participant in two early learning/childhood coalitions and works within the Thurston and Lewis county communities to increase awareness of the importance of good oral health in early childhood and during pregnancy. Contact Katrin at 360-539-7576 Ext. 103 or palmerk@crhn.org for more information and enrollment assistance.