The Community Oral Health Coordination Institute's Connecting Smiles initiative is offering free onsite training for both dental and medical providers, as well as their staff, to equip them with the information and tools needed to positively impact the oral health of young children and their families.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend the use of an oral health risk assessment, including a visual screening, anticipatory guidance, preventive strategies and the establishment of a dental home by age 1. The training will explain how oral health preventive services can easily be integrated into their current services.

The Connecting Smiles training is segmented into learning modules that can be viewed at one time or as separate 10-15 minute sessions. Training topics include:

Module 1: Dental Decay and the Young Child

Module 2: Assessing a Child'ןž ™s Risk for Decay

Module 3: Oral Health Education and Anticipatory Guidance for Parents and Caregivers

Module 4: The Positive Impact of Fluoride and Fluoridated Water

Module 5: Ready, Set, Integrate! Early Oral Health in the Dental and Medical Setting

Module 5 contains information on how to apply fluoride varnish. It is important to note that medical providers who complete this training can bill for fluoride varnish application up to 2 times a year. Research supports that the application of fluoride varnish can reduce tooth decay by about 33% in primary teeth. An additional goal of the Connecting Smiles initiative is to provide on-site support and help foster a collaborative relationship between dental and medical providers to expand access to early childhood caries preventive services.


The goal of the Connecting Smiles initiative is to promote and support a collaborative relationship that reach families with young children.

Medical and Dental providers can play an important role in improving the oral health of young children and their families by providing risk assessments, preventive care and patient education. Early Childhood Caries adversely impacts development and learning and can affect what a child eats, how they speak and ultimately how they feel about themselves. Such an impact can result in poor overall health and well-being. A child cannot be truly healthy if he or she has poor oral health.


- The medical setting is the perfect place to promote and support early oral health.

- It is recommended that young children are seen by a dentist by age 1 and medical providers can reinforce that message.

- Medical providers can support early intervention and prevention during well child visits that take place prior to the age 1 dental visit.

- Medical providers are natural advocates for child health and understand that oral health is a part of a child's overall health.

What does a Connecting Smiles training session include?

  • In-office continuing education training lasting approximately 1 hour
  • Hands-on practice of fluoride varnish application
  • Dual language anticipatory guidance that can be shared with parents and caregivers 
  • Exam/waiting room posters
  • Key Messages DVD

Post-training support and technical assistance provided as needed.

Learn about our funding partners:
  Bureau of Health Profession of the Health Resources and Services DentaQuest Founfation South Carolina Rural Health Reserch Center