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The Center for Children's Health

Children's Oral Health Coalition

Oral Health

Six county map - Tarrant

Building Healthier Smiles

Over the past 20 years, the Children’s Oral Health Coalition (COHC) has led the charge to improve the oral health of children and pregnant teens/women. COHC has been recognized nationally as a 2018 Health Equity Hero by DentaQuest for our work supporting pregnant teens, and received the Texas Dental Association Certificate of Merit for Train the Trainer: Oral Health in 2008. COHC is notably the only children’s oral health coalition in Texas.

To help advance the strategies of COHC, members have united to make an impact in Tarrant County and the surrounding areas. The coalition is comprised of a diverse, multi-sector collaboration with a network of over 35 organizations including Fort Worth Dental District Society, Fort Worth ISD, Arlington ISD, Dental Health Arlington, Tarrant County College Dental Hygiene Program, North Texas Area Community Health Centers, Texas Department of State Health Services, Maximus, DentaQuest, nonprofit organizations, and other dental and non-dental stakeholders.


Our focus:

There are many ways to address oral health disease in children and pregnant teens/women. We have chosen four areas for impact: Awareness, Education, Prevention and Advocacy.

Since our inception in 1999, over 324,000 oral health awareness materials have been distributed that address common oral health topics of concern to parents including:

  • Baby Teeth Do Matter
  • Brushing Rules of 2
  • Nutrition
  • You Can Catch a Cavity
  • Take Your Child

Awareness messages are also shared through social media, and provided free to the public.

Oral health education is provided through a free, 4-hour Train the Trainer class for community professionals (child care providers, nurses, social workers, etc.). Classes are taught by a dentist or a dental hygienist.

From 2008 to 2019, more than 7, 800 families have been reached by 855 Oral Health Ambassadors.

Train the Trainer: Oral Health Education

"Train the Trainer" was created to give community professionals the skills and knowledge needed to talk about oral health to pregnant women and parents of young children ages birth to 8 years of age.

Train the Trainer is a free four-hour workshop introducing oral health basics in a small group setting, and taught by a dentist or dental hygienist. The workshop is a unique way to learn the importance of oral health and how it impacts overall health in a fun, engaging environment with hands-on activities.

Once the training is completed, participants become "oral health ambassadors" with access to a teaching toolkit and other resources to:

  • Explain how mouth health is connected to overall health
  • Inform pregnant mothers why oral health matters during pregnancy
  • Demonstrate proper oral health basics - wiping infant gums, brushing, flossing, choosing the right size toothbrush and how to make brushing fun
  • Prepare parents for their child's first dental visit by age one
  • Help parents choose foods and drinks that are healthy for teeth and gums

To learn more about this program, click here and download the Train the Trainer brochure.

Each year in February, over 100 volunteers help assemble over 30,000 oral health kits at our Wild About Smiles Kit assembly & distribution event. Twenty years of building healthy smiles has resulted in 265,883 oral health kits being given to infants, toddlers and elementary students at 70 schools, day cares and social service organizations in Tarrant County and the surrounding area.

Limited oral exams (dental screenings) are provided in over 100 schools in Tarrant County during the school year by members of COHC’s school screening committee.

We advocate for oral health systemic and policy changes at the organizational, local and state levels to make sure children, and pregnant teens/women have access to oral health care when it is needed. We also track and use data to help support our advocacy work.


Coordinated care for pregnant teens + women update (CC4PT+W)

Dentists play and important role in the care of pregnant teens and women. However, dentists are not always a part of the pregnancy journey for various reasons. Barriers to providing care can include the availability of dentists for referrals, the need for a doctor’s consent prior to providing any care, the comfort level in providing treatment and the lack of awareness about the safety of care during pregnancy.

We want dentists actively engaged in providing essential dental care to pregnant moms to ensure the healthiest and safest results for both mom and baby.

Pregnant moms will be referred by medical providers as well as other community organizations involved in the pilot. This opportunity is open to all dentists.

By becoming a dental provider for our Coordinated Care for Pregnant Teens + Women initiative, we can work together to make a significant impact on the health and well-being of babies and pregnant moms in our community. Your help is needed to make this vision a reality.


Membership information

Join the COHC and make a difference!

The mission of the Children's Oral Health Coalition is to improve the oral health of children ages 0 to 8 in Tarrant County through community collaboration.

The COHC uses evidence-based practices and a strategic plan to guide the education, prevention, awareness and advocacy initiatives in the community.

The COHC uses evidence-based practices and a strategic plan to guide the education, prevention, awareness and advocacy initiatives in the community.

  • Attend our bi-monthly meetings
  • Attend or send staff to a Train the Trainer: Oral Health Workshop
  • Volunteer at the Wild about Smiles kit assembly event
  • Become an Oral Health Champion and distribute education, awareness and prevention materials to families
  • Help spread the word about children's oral health
  • Make a donation to help purchase supplies for oral hygiene kits

Click here for COHC application commitment Letter.


Questions or comments

Elaine Vivens

If you have any questions or would like more information about our program, please email Elaine Vivens.