Messages from Mark: Children's Dental Health Month

Messages from Mark: Children's Dental Health Month

I learned through the month of February that National Children’s Dental Health Month is a big deal, bringing together thousands of dedicated professionals, healthcare providers, and educators to promote the benefits of good oral health for children. A quick Google search brings up millions of results identifying activities and events at the national, state and local level. In my three months at Delta I’ve been presented with a fair amount of data, what I’m learning about children’s oral health is eye-opening.

In 2018, dentists submitted claims to Delta Dental of Washington for over 185,000 sealants and more than half a million fluoride treatments. That is an incredible amount of preventive care. Our data shows that 97% of children with Delta plans had exams two years in a row, indicating dentists and parents are taking steps to ensure continuity of care.

Beyond DDWA covered children, more Medicaid kids under 6 are getting dental care in Washington.

  • According to the Washington State Health Care Authority, 53% received dental care in 2017, compared to 38% in 2008

  • The Washington State Department of Health Smile Survey reports untreated tooth decay is down 32% among 3-5 year old, low-income children since 2005

  • And, for third grade children, untreated tooth decay is down 37% and tooth decay in permanent teeth is down 46% since 2005

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of meeting with a group of dentists in Yakima. One was a pedodontist, the first to provide specialty care to children in Yakima I believe. I was struck by her commitment to the kids in her community. Her colleagues expressed their gratitude for her as their community needed an exceptional place to refer patients for pediatric care.

Personally, I received regular dental care as a kid growing up in Billings, Montana. My family had a great relationship with my family dentist, who cared for my teeth until I left for college. As a parent, it’s important to me that my three kids receive routine oral care. As a family, we’re committed to upping our brushing game.

Thank you to the thousands of dentists in Washington, both general practitioners and specialists, who provide care to children and educate parents about the importance of good oral health. Your efforts are changing lives and helping to promote healthy habits that lead to healthy adults.


Mark Mitchke

P.S. I enjoy reading and responding to the questions I receive from Member Dentists through my new inbox, If you have questions or suggestions, please send them my way.

Washington State Health Care Authority (HCA), Apple Health Dental Services Enrollment and Utilization Data (FY 2008 – FY 2017).

Washington State Department of Health. Smile Survey 2015: The Oral Health of Washington's Children. Olympia, WA, 2017. Smile Survey 2015-2016.

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