Children’s Oral Health

In 2007, the Sadie and Harry Davis Foundation’s trustees decided to focus its resources on improving the oral health of children in Maine. Soon after, the Foundation launched its first oral health initiative, From the First Tooth, which now serves over a third of all Maine children (ages 0–4 years) who receive preventive oral health services in medical settings.

Our goal is big and audacious: we aim to reach every Maine child and eliminate all tooth decay. This is not just about improving a child’s oral health — it’s about improving her overall well-being for a lifetime.

Barbara Crowley, M.D., Partnership for Children’s Oral Health Board of Trustees; Executive Vice President, MaineGeneral Health

From the First Tooth

From the First Tooth teaches primary healthcare providers how to perform oral health assessments, apply fluoride varnish to children’s teeth, and provide oral health education to parents and caregivers. The program is administered by MaineHealth and has been formally endorsed by the Maine Dental Association.

With the help of a federal grant, MaineHealth later launched a companion program, Before the First Tooth, an initiative that teaches expectant mothers and new parents how to care for their families’ teeth and find dental services in their communities.

Partnership for Children’s Oral Health

To expand its work in oral health, in 2016, the SHDF established the Partnership for Children’s Oral Health, a statewide nonprofit whose mission is to improve the oral health of children. Led by Becca Matusovich, the Partnership promotes meaningful change in policy and practice by collaborating with partners in numerous sectors, including medicine, dentistry, education, childcare, and public health.

The Partnership is focused in three main areas: expanding school-based services; health integration, which includes integrating From the First Tooth’s program into the state’s primary care system; and promoting innovative practices that help arrest the progression of dental disease.

The Partnership’s network of partners and funders includes a statewide council of experts from organizations such as Northeast Delta Dental, The Betterment Fund, DentaQuest, Maine Community Foundation, and the Maine Oral Health Funders.