Date of Award
Master of Public Health (MPH)
Oral health plays an important role in the overall health and well-being of individuals. Poor oral health can affect physical health and may contribute to chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes (Oral Health in Maine, 2013). Poor oral health among children can affect learning, socialization, and school attendance, and can lead to more oral health problems later in life (Oral Health in Maine, 2013). Dental caries are the most common chronic disease among children, five times more common than asthma (Bales, 2011). Although dental caries can be prevented, a significant proportion of Maine’s children experiences dental decay. A statewide survey from 2011 showed that 22% of kindergartners and 33% of third graders had either treated or untreated cavities (Oral Health in Maine, 2013). About half of the children in each group had untreated cavities at the time of the screening. Childhood is the ideal time for preventive actions. Increased efforts in preventive interventions such as sealants, fluoride varnish, and fluoridated water are among the best preventive measures that support children’s oral health. However, lack of understanding of the needs and best practices, insufficient infrastructure to implement preventive strategies through the public health system, and limitations on available resources can obstruct these efforts.
Webber, Leah, "Children’s Oral Health in Maine: The Surveillance System" (2018). Muskie School Capstones. 146.