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News | April 27, 2021

TRICARE Dental Program Offers Ways to Protect Your Child’s Teeth

By TRICARE Communications

Did you know tooth decay is one of the most common childhood diseases? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 5 children ages 5–11 have at least one untreated decayed tooth. This decay, also known as cavities, can cause pain and infections that may affect a child’s ability to eat, speak, play, or learn. If you’re a parent who’s wondering if there’s anything you can do to protect your child’s teeth, the answer is yes. And it starts with taking advantage of your TRICARE Dental Program (TDP) coverage.
 
“The TDP covers a wide range of preventive dental services for military children worldwide,” said Chief of the Defense Health Agency TRICARE Dental Care Section COL Christensen Hsu. “From seeing the dentist for regular checkups to getting sealants, the TDP can help keep your daughter or son’s gums and teeth healthy.”
 
Here’s a look at your TDP coverage and what you can do to protect your child’s oral health.
 
What are my child’s preventive dental options?
Dental cleanings are just one of the TDP’s main covered services. It covers two routine dental cleanings in a consecutive 12-month period for each enrollee. Other basic dental care that’s fully covered includes: 
  • Fluoride treatments
  • Space maintainers (fully covered for children under the age 19)
  • Space maintainer care
  • Sealants (fully covered for permanent molars through age 18)
 
The TDP also covers basic restorative services. This includes dental fillings and crowns. Dentists use restoratives to repair broken or cracked teeth, and to protect against cavities. If your child needs braces or a major dental procedure, like oral surgery, the TDP covers that as well. Keep in mind, your cost-share depends on the type of service your child needs, sponsor pay grade, and where you live. Some dental services may count towards your TDP maximum benefit.
 
If you have questions, be sure to contact your TDP contractor, United Concordia Companies, Inc. Or check out the TRICARE Dental Program Handbook. This resource can help you learn more about dental costs, how to find a network dentist, and other dental services your child may need.  
 
Don’t forget about oral hygiene
As important as seeing the dentist is, remember that it’s only half the battle. You’ve got to do your part at home, too. That means making sure your child brushes his or her teeth. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends daily flossing and brushing twice per day. Brushing and flossing is a good routine to establish with your child. It’s something fun you can do together. Just make sure you keep an eye on them, especially if you have small children.
 
“For children, ages three to six, it’s really important to supervise their brushing,” Hsu added. “They’re new to it, and they’re not exactly very good in terms of brushing their teeth in the very back. You also have to remind them not to swallow the toothpaste.”
 
Diet is an important factor as well. Limiting sweets and eating healthy foods, like fruits and vegetables, can benefit your child’s dental health. You can learn more about good foods for dental health from ADA.
 
April is the Month of the Military Child. Be sure to check out other resources from the Military Health System to help support the health and well-being of military children of all ages. To learn more about covered dental services for your child or yourself, visit the TDP website.
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