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Your mouth is a window to your overall health. Sometimes the first sign of a disease shows up in your mouth. In other cases, infections in your mouth, such as gum disease or tooth decay, can cause problems in other areas of your body.

That is why it’s so important that children see a dentist – so the dentist can provide parents with information on children’s oral hygiene and conditions such as cavities, gum disease and tooth decay and receive treatment.

Many children lack access to dental care, however, which is a critical component in achieving good oral health. Children First works to improve the oral health of the region’s children by engaging in multiple, interconnected efforts to improve children’s access to oral health care services.

Children First’s Health Policy Director, Colleen McCauley, describes our work with dental health providers, to help enroll eligible children in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) when their families bring them in for free dental services. Once they are covered, children can get the dental care they need, when they need it: