Section on Oral Health​

The Section on Oral Health (SOOH) was formed to improve the care of infants, children, and adolescents by providing an educational forum for the discussion of problems and treatments related to oral health. The Section focuses on improving communications between pediatricians and pediatric dentists, education, and advocating for children's oral health issues. The Section welcomes members who are pediatric dentists, pediatricians, and allied health professionals (dental hygienists, dental assistants, and pediatric nurses, nurses, nurse practitioners, pediatric residents, and pediatric dental residents).


1999 – The Section on Pediatric Dentistry and Oral Health is formed and the AAP begins to welcome pediatric dentists as Associate Members of the Academy, with the goal of improving communication and collaboration between the 2 pediatric disciplines.

2001 – In response to the Surgeon General's Report on the State of Oral Health in America, the AAP begins to address the pediatrician's role in oral health by forming the Oral Health Initiative. The Oral Health Initiative works to address children's oral health issues through the development of training materials and educational programs, and providing communication outlets related to pediatric oral health. The Oral Health Initiative is an effort led by the AAP, but is supported by many other dental and medical organizations. Many of the AAP oral health activities that you will find around this Web site are a result of the Oral Health Initiative.

2002 – The AAP begins work on the Maternal and Child Health Bureau-funded PedsCare grant. Oral health was a piece of this larger community-focused grant.

2003 – The AAP publishes its first policy statement on oral health focusing on the establishment of a dental home by age 1.​

2005 – The AAP begins work on the Maternal and Child Health Bureau-funded Partnerships to Reduce Oral Health Disparities in Early Childhood grant. This grant focused on training health professionals, forming an infrastructure to support oral health services in the medical home, and addressing oral health disparities. The AAP also completed the oral health components of its Bright Futures Health Supervision Guidelines for infants, children, and adolescents. 

2006 – Children's oral health becomes a strategic priority in the AAP Agenda for Children.

2007 – The AAP receives a grant from the American Dental Association Foundation to train pediatricians in each state Chapter about oral health and improve communication between the medical and dental homes. These trained pediatricians are the AAP Chapter Oral Health Advocates. (see below for more information on the Chapter Oral Health Advocates).

2008 – The AAP publishes its second policy statement on oral health, focusing on preventive oral health services in the pediatric practice, and hosts the National Summit on Children's Oral Health and the Pediatrics in the 21st Century Oral Health Symposium at the AAP National Conference and Exhibition.

Present – The AAP is continuing its work on medical/dental integration as well as implementing preventive oral health services in the medical home, advocating for community water fluoridation, and designing effective communication strategies to educate others about oral health. 

Chapter Oral Health Advocates

Chapter Oral Health Advocates (COHAs) work in their state to educate other health professionals about oral health. COHAs are pediatricians and pediatric dentists who have been trained by the Academy to educate others on preventive oral health in the pediatrician's office, fluoride varnish application, and the importance of a dental home by age 1.

The American Academy of Pediatrics works to improve children's oral health through communication and collaboration between the medical and dental homes, and to make pediatricians and other health professionals an essential part of the oral health team. Through the Section on Oral Health and Chapter Oral Health Advocates, the AAP provides education, training, and advocacy for pediatricians, dentists, other health professionals, and families.

The AAP Children's Oral Health effort is committed to the following goals:

  • To promote oral health care in primary pediatric settings by giving anticipatory guidance to families about oral hygiene, diet, fluoride, and the importance of the first dental visit at 1 year of age.
  • To educate and advocate for primary pediatric care professionals to apply fluoride varnish.
  • To educate policy makers and payers about the importance of reimbursement for pediatric oral health care.

Learn how you can become a Chapter Oral Health Advocate within your AAP Chapter or contact the advocate in your state.

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American Academy of Pediatrics