Smile BIG Richland!

Educating and improving the oral health of 0—18 year olds in Richland County.

     Through funding from the Richland County Foundation and donations from national and local organizations, our mission is to educate and prevent the prevalence of tooth decay in youth between the ages of 0 to 18.

     Did you know that dental disease is the most common chronic illness for children in the U.S.? About 20% of children between the ages of 5 to 11 have at least one untreated decayed tooth. While dental disease is preventable, dental care is the most common unmet health need of children.

     Here in Richland County, tooth decay is one of the most common untreated diseases and is the most common chronic disease seen in our community’s children. This is due to a lack of access to dental care as well as limited to no access of fluoridated water in certain Richland County communities. When children do not see a dental healthcare provider or drink fluoridated water regularly, their chances of experiencing tooth decay and dental health issues increases significantly and can have negative effects on their overall oral health throughout their entire lifespan. While treating dental health issues (such as cavities) is important, preventing dental health issues for our youth as a community is one of the best things we can do for them to ensure they grow up to have big, healthy, and strong smiles!

    Keeping kids’ teeth healthy means more than just daily brushing! Did you know that fluoride plays an important role in healthy tooth development and cavity prevention? Water fluoridation has proven to be a safe and cost-effective way to reduce tooth decay in youth by 25%. Although water fluoridation is one of the greatest public health achievements of the 20th century and has provided a dramatic decline in tooth decay over the past 70 years across the United States, there are communities in Richland County who do not have fluoridated water systems. Water fluoridation is an inexpensive means of improving oral health that benefits all residents of our community, young and old, rich and poor alike. Here at Richland Public Health, we strive to reduce health disparities and provide health equity in our community. Since youth who live in communities where water is fluoridated have on average 2.25 fewer decayed teeth compared to youth not living in fluoridated communities, we are making it a priority to provide free fluoridated toothpaste and fluoride treatments to youth who live in Richland County communities who do not have access to fluoridated water. To find out if your water is fluoridated,  contact your community’s water provider (utility) to learn the fluoride content of your drinking water. 

Fluoride Use for Children

Dental caries (cavities) continues to be the most chronic disease of childhood. Although dental caries is multifactorial in its etiology, fluoride is an important chemotherapeutic intervention to strengthen teeth and prevent disease progression. The safety of fluoride has been demonstrated in numerous research studies and community water fluoridation heralded as one of the top 10 public health achievements of the 20th century by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Water Fluoridation

Did you know that fluoride exists naturally in virtually all water supplies? Fluoride reduces decay by strengthening tooth enamel.

Adding fluoride to water is a safe way to prevent tooth decay. Water is “fluoridated” when a public water system adjusts the fluoride to a level known to prevent tooth decay.

Kashema Ginn, Health Educator


Phone: (419) 774-4723

Shannon Nelson, Coordinator


Phone: (419) 774-4761