First Smiles is a statewide initiative to address the "silent epidemic" of Early Childhood Caries affecting children ages 0-5. It is the most prevalent chronic disease of early childhood and a major cause of school absenteeism.
The CDA Foundation and the Dental Health Foundation, in a joint venture, were awarded a 4-year, $7 million grant to deliver the California Children and Families Commission's Oral Health Education and Training Project. The project's goal is to educate 30,000 dental professionals, 10,000 medical professionals and deliver intensive training to 14,000 dental professionals and over 3,500 medical professionals statewide. The education and training will consist of the newest scientific information on dental disease prevention in children, prenatal to 5 years, including those with disabilities and other special needs. There are three target audiences in the project: dental professionals, which include non-specialty dentists, hygienists, assistants, and dental students; medical professionals, such as pediatricians, family practice physicians, OB/GYNs, nurse practitioners who work with young children, and medical residents. In addition, there is a public focus, which will consist of educational programs for parents and caregivers who will be reached through early childhood educators, such as WIC, Head Start, First 5 School Readiness and California Childhood Health Programs.