When it comes to their health, a good defense is a strong offense for kids


As part of an innovative, preemptive
program funded through philanthropy
for Arizona's kids, fluoride varnish
is applied once every six months,
when primary teeth start coming in,
to combat tooth decay and build
good overall health.

Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease among children, affecting some 60% of Arizona children—compared to the national average of 36%—and costing the state millions of dollars in restorative dental services and treatment.

Dental disease is associated with poor overall health as well as poor school performance, absenteeism, troubled social relationships, and low self-esteem in children.

Access to preventive oral health care improves health outcomes for children

With philanthropic funding, a pilot program is underway at the Family Medicine Center at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix to apply topical fluoride varnish to children age 5 and younger. Fluoride varnish is safe and effective, reducing tooth decay rates and creating significant cost savings in dental and hospital care. The program is expected to be self-sustaining in one year via insurance reimbursement.

“I’m very excited for the launch of this program,” says Dr. Sarah Coles, a physician lead with the fluoride varnish program, who practices at the Family Medicine Center at Banner – University Medical Center. “It will allow us, as primary care providers, to improve access to preventive oral health care, reduce health disparities, and improve health outcomes for children in our practice and community.”

Children who attend lower income schools have higher prevalence of decay and lower rates of treatment, while dental disease accounts for 52 million lost school hours annually.

The Family Medicine Center serves patients who are at higher risk of poor oral health and lower access to dental health services. Through this innovative, preemptive program, funded through philanthropy, fluoride varnish will be applied at least once every six months, when primary teeth start coming in, and up through age 5, to pediatric patients seen at the Family Medicine Center, as a part of their well child visit.