Children's Hospital Colorado

The Grow and Smile Program for Children’s Oral Health

Grow and Smile provides a two-generation approach to improving oral health and oral health education among students in Aurora Public Schools (APS). Families living in neighborhoods near Children’s Hospital Colorado have found oral health to be a serious unmet need.  

Impacting knowledge and attitudes about oral health and providing prevention-based dental care is important to lifelong oral health. That’s why Children’s Colorado works with APS to reach preschool children at three nearby early childhood education centers and the pregnant and parenting teens in the Young Parents Support Program. We also provide dental services through school-based health centers at two APS elementary schools.

The importance of children’s oral health

Tooth decay (also called cavities or dental caries) is the most common chronic disease for school-age children. In fact, more than 30% of kindergarten children in Colorado have cavities. The problem increases as children get older; by third grade, 47% of kids have had cavities.

Though preventive measures like dental sealants are highly effective, only half of children who could benefit from sealants receive them. All children should have oral health education and regular access to dental care to support good oral health outcomes.

Oral health for young parents

Germs that cause tooth decay may be passed from mother to infant as early as the first weeks of life, making dental care during pregnancy important for both mother and baby. (Dental care is safe during pregnancy.) In addition to receiving dental care during pregnancy, pregnant women should brush their teeth twice daily and eat a healthy diet.

The Young Parent Support Program at Aurora Public Schools helps teen mothers and fathers navigate the multiple challenges that come with being both a parent and a student. Through the Grow and Smile Program, young parents who are enrolled in Aurora Public Schools may also be able to receive dental care at one of our school-based dental clinics listed below.

School-based oral health programs and clinics

Regular dental care is important for children of all ages. Doctors and dentists recommend the first dental visit by age 1 or when the first teeth come in. This provides us with the best chance to prevent cavities and improve the health of children’s teeth and gums.

Our team provides caring and affordable dental care to children at two convenient school locations, where all children are welcome. We accept all insurance and offer a sliding fee scale.

Our school-based dental clinic locations:

Laredo Kid’s Clinic
1420 Laredo Street
Aurora, CO 80111

Crawford Kid’s Clinic
1600 Florence Street
Aurora, CO 80010

To make an appointment, call 720-777-8875.

Cavity Free at Three

Cavity-Free at Three is Children’s Colorado’s infant oral healthcare program that provides preventive dental care to children under the age of 3. Though dental decay is the number-one chronic disease affecting children, cavities can be prevented with proper dental care.

In this program, parents will:

  • Receive regular dental care for their child including check-ups, cleanings and fluoride treatments
  • Learn how to prevent cavities and care for their child’s teeth
  • Learn about healthy eating habits

For an appointment, please call 720-777-6788.

Community outreach: providing oral health education for children

At Children’s Colorado, we promote dental health in the community and provide presentations, instructions and seminars to help keep mouths healthy. In 2018, we provided more than 1,000 free toothbrushes at numerous outreach events.

If you're interested in having Children's Colorado's Grow and Smile Program team attend your event, please fill out the below form and we’ll be in touch.

How to teach children good oral health habits

Parents and caregivers are instrumental in helping children form healthy habits. We encourage families to teach kids the importance of oral health by using the following dental health tips along with our printable tooth brushing chart:

Dental health tips for kids

  • Use toothpaste with fluoride

    • Fluoride is a natural mineral that strengthens teeth against cavities.
    • Use a small dollop the size of a grain of rice for children ages 1 to 3.
    • Increase to a pea-size amount for children ages 4 and up.
    • Drink tap water or bottled water containing fluoride.
  • Teach kids how to brush

    • Brush for 1 to 2 minutes twice a day.
    • Brush teeth, gums and tongue.
  • Establish a routine

    • Brush after breakfast and before bedtime.
    • Never skip the bedtime brushing.
    • Schedule regular dental care every 3 to 6 months.
    • Wean baby off the bottle by age 1.
    • Don’t put baby to bed with a bottle or sippy cup.
    • Drink milk at mealtime and water in between.
    • Drink more water, and less juice and soda.
    • Eat more fruits, vegetables and cheese when snacking.
  • Help kids participate

    • Let kids participate in brushing their own teeth.
    • Fine motor coordination happens around 7 to 8 years old, so children will need some help until then.