Last week’s Back to School Fair was a great event! We did over 200 free dental screenings & fluoride varnish applications. We even made the front page of the Southeast Missourian on Wednesday. We had awesome volunteers to help with our dental screenings.
We have local dentists and dental hygienists that volunteer their time for the Preventive Service Program (PSP). During the 2016-2017 school year we had 10 dentists, 8 hygienists, 21 dental assistants, & 18 lay volunteers assisting with the school and daycare dental screenings and fluoride varnish applications. All dentists, hygienists, assistants, and volunteers have to do online training thru the Missouri Oral Health PSP. Dental personnel receive a free credit hour for the training. The cooperation from local dental providers has been very impressive.
The intent of the Missouri Oral Health PSP is to provide an evaluation of oral health in Missouri’s children, implement educational and prevention strategies (fluoride varnish) and initiate referrals for dental services to those targeted with unmet dental needs. Every student that gets a dental screening receives a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, bookmarks, coloring books, brushing & flossing cards all provided by the state. Ordering supplies for the schools and daycares needs to be done 4-6 weeks before the event.
Fluoride is the most effective way to prevent tooth decay. Some studies have shown that children who have fluoride varnish applied twice a year have 50% fewer cavities than those who don’t. Fluoride strengthens the teeth and is incorporated in the saliva and plaque to reduce the severity of the acid attacks caused by sugary food and drink. Most of the children are thrilled that they don’t have to brush their teeth that night. No popcorn, crunchy foods, or gum are allowed that night either.
During the last school year we worked with 16 school districts & 12 daycares in Cape and Scott Counties. We screen children from 2 years old to 18 years. Total youth that were screened totaled 5,992. 2% of those children still need (immediate) urgent dental treatment.
In the spring of the year we have our Sensational Smiles Fundraiser. This event allows us to sustain the work of our Oral Health Coalition in providing a Dental Treatment Scholarship for children & adults with urgent dental needs. It also serves as an opportunity to recognize dental providers and community volunteers involved in our school and daycare screenings. Programs like this are only a success with the generous support of caring community individuals, organizations and business.
-Dotty Gholson, Oral Health Coordinator