Healthy bodies need healthy mouths. Did you know that poor teeth or gum health can lead to heart problems, cause issues with pregnancy and childbirth, worsen diabetes, and make it easier to get pneumonia? Health conditions like immune system disorders or Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias can also make oral health worse. Taking good care of your teeth, gums, and mouth is important to your overall health.
Local Oral Health Program
The State of California provides funding to each county health department to provide oral health services. The Local Oral Health Program (LOHP) helps protect the oral health of County of Santa Clara residents. Not everyone has equal access to oral health resources. The LOHP services work to reduce this disparity. We work with school districts, County agencies, non-profits, and dental providers to help you get access to the oral health programs and services you need most.
Read below to learn more about how to find local oral health providers, useful oral health tips, and get access to other oral health resources, such as dental insurance.
Need a dentist?
Routine visits with a trusted dental provider are important. Choosing a dentist will help you and your family get regular cleanings, x-rays, and other services to keep your mouths healthy.
The County of Santa Clara has many dental providers. If you have dental insurance, ask your insurance if a dental provider is covered before making your choice. You can also ask a friend or a family member about their dentist to help you find a dental provider. If you do not have dental insurance, look for a dental clinic or dental provider that offers a sliding fee scale. This may lessen the worry over dental treatment costs.
After you choose a provider, get familiar with the types of services they offer, and get to know the staff who will treat you and your family. A personal connection to a dental provider can help motivate you to stay on track with oral health visits.
Review these local resources to find a dental provider who fits your family’s needs:
- Dental Provider List from the Local Oral Health Program
- Healthier Kids Foundation Dental Provider List
- VMC Dental Clinic Locations and Hours
- Retirement Communities, Senior Centers, and Veterans
- Gardner Family Health Centers
- Indian Health Center of Santa Clara Valley
- Vietnamese American Service Center (VASC)
Get dental coverage
Got Medi-Cal? You may have dental coverage too! Medi-Cal offers many dental benefits at any age, including routine exams, cleanings, and x-rays. Medi-Cal also covers fillings, dentures, and emergency services.
If you have concerns about your teeth, schedule an appointment to see your dentist right away. Medi‑Cal will pay up to $1,800 a year for covered dental services. Medi-Cal may go over the $1,800 limit for some services if they are medically needed. If you’re pregnant, you may qualify for a “no yearly limit benefit.” Contact the Medi-Cal Dental Program for details:
- Get dental coverage online through Medi-Cal
- Contact Medi-Cal Dental by phone: (800) 322-6384
- Medi-Cal Dental Benefits by Age
- Covered California Dental Coverage
- Medicare and Dental Coverage
- Shopping for Dental Coverage
Dental visits and emergencies:
Going to the dentist is an important part of keeping your mouth and body healthy. If you have tooth pain, bleeding gums, or face swelling, it is important to visit a dental provider right away. These could be warning signs of a worsening problem that could lead to expensive treatment or tooth loss. Visit a dentist for dental exams and a hygienist for cleanings at least twice a year for better oral health.
Dental visit resources:
Oral health information
Did you know that cavities and gum disease are preventable? Having good oral health is easy for both you and your family. Good home care and regular dental visits are needed to make sure your teeth and gums stay healthy.
Use these tips to keep your teeth and gums healthy:
- Brush your teeth 2-3 times per day with a soft toothbrush for 2 minutes
- Floss between your teeth 1-2 times a day
- Quit smoking
- Eat a healthy diet and learn about how some foods can harm your teeth
- Choose water instead of sugary drinks
- Visit a dentist for dental exams and a hygienist for cleanings at least twice a year
Learn more about common issues that can affect your teeth and gums:
- Tooth Decay (Caries, Cavities)
- Early Gum Disease (Gingivitis)
- Advanced Gum Disease (Perio)
- Bad Breath (Halitosis)
- Dry Mouth (Xerostomia)
- Tooth Sensitivity and Pain
- Plaque and Tartar (Calculus)
- 12 Signs You Need to See a Dentist
More oral health topics to explore:
Preventing dental disease through water fluoridation has been proven safe and effective for over 70 years. Putting fluoride in the water helps prevent tooth decay for all members of the community, including people who may not have access to dental care. Since 2020, tooth decay rates in our community have skyrocketed. Read the resources below about water fluoridation and how to find out if the water in your area is fluoridated:
- American Dental Association Fluoridation Facts
- CDC Water FAQ
- Is My Water Fluoridated? (Valley Water District Zip Codes)
- Water Fluoridation by County (CDC)
Oral health events
The Local Oral Health Program (LOHP) partners with schools, health organizations, and nonprofits to bring oral health resources to the community. Throughout the year, the LOHP sponsors and promotes a variety of health events hosted by public health partners and community-based organizations. Free Oral health screening events are a great way to help your child learn how to build healthy habits. If you have a child starting school in kindergarten or first grade, these events can often help you receive the state-required Kindergarten Oral Health Assessment exam.
Know of an upcoming public health event? Need LOHP to add an oral health component to your event? Please contact us.
Want to become more involved with teeth and health in your community? The LOHP welcomes your input to help make the County of Santa Clara a healthier and cavity-free community for everyone.
If you work in the health or dental field and are interested in learning more about LOHP outreach, would like to volunteer for an oral health event, or if you wish to join the Oral Health Collaborative, please contact us. The LOHP is also looking for people who are passionate about oral health equity to join our oral health workgroups:
- Pregnant persons
- Children and foster youth
- Older adults and those with disabilities
- Unhoused and reentry populations
- Culturally specific groups (for example, African/African Ancestry, Latinx, AAPI, Indigenous, and LGBTQIA+)