Open Mouth, Open Mind: Expanding the Role of Primary Care Nurse Practitioners

Oral health is essential to overall health at any age, although in children it is particularly important because poor oral health can have a  deleterious effect on deciduous and permanent dentition. For decades, oral health providers  have urged primary care providers to incorporate oral health assessment, risk factor identification, parent education, and preventive therapy into routine well-child visits. Despite recommendations from various professional associations and governmental organizations, the incidence of dental disease in young children remains relatively unchanged. Although the literature has clearly demonstrated that preventive care treatments, such as the application of fluoride varnish performed in the primary care setting, improve oral health in children, very few primary care providers include oral health services in their well-child visits. The purpose of this article is to reduce the barriers and knowledge gaps identified in recent pediatric oral health research and educate primary care nurse practitioners on the application of fluoride varnish to reduce the risk of the development of dental caries in young children.  

Important: This continuing education activity is no cost to NAPNAP Members. You must be logged into PedsCESM using your NAPNAP Member ID # and Password to be recognized as a Member of NAPNAP. If you are a current member of NAPNAP, and you are being asked to purchase this activity at the Non-Member rate ($10.00), please contact the NAPNAP National Office at (877) 662-7627 to request assistance prior to entering any payment information.

This continuing education activity is administered by the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP) as an Agency providing continuing education credit. Individuals who complete this program and earn a 70% or higher score on the post test will be awarded 1.0 NAPNAP contact hour.

Copyright 2015© by National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Target Audience

Pediatric-focused advanced practice registered nurses.

Learning Objectives

  • Summarize the definition and epidemiology of early childhood caries
  • Analyze the most current evidence-based recommendations for prevention of early childhood caries.
  • Utilize risk factors for early childhood caries to guide oral health education for families.
  • Identify signs of early childhood caries indicating the need for referral to a dentist.
  • Promote the integration of fluoride varnish use into the primary care setting.
Course summary
Available credit: 
  • 1.00 Contact hours
Course opens: 
Course expires: 

Carol A. Clark, Clinical Assistant Professor, Indiana University School of Nursing, Indianapolis, IN.

Kathleen A. Kent, Clinical Assistant Professor, Indiana University School of Nursing, Indianapolis, IN

Richard D. Jackson, Associate Professor, Indiana University School of Dentistry, Indianapolis, IN


None to Report


Kathleen A. Kent, DNP, RN, CPNP,

Indiana University School of Nursing

1111 Middle Dr, NU 423W

Indianapolis, IN 46202



Available Credit

  • 1.00 Contact hours


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