School Dental Screenings Focus On The Importance of Regular Checkups

Little Rock, Ark. (February 4, 2003) – With mouths wide open, students at Franklin Elementary School in Little Rock will be the first to take part in the 2003 “Future Smiles” program. Second and 3rd grade students who have received parental permission will be given a complete dental screening as well as the application of sealants.

Nearly 90 percent of cavities in school children occur in the surfaces of teeth with grooves and crevices. Sealants, a plastic coating, can easily be applied to the teeth to protect them from cavity causing bacteria.

“Future Smiles” is a program made possible by the support and guidance of the Dental Health Action Team, a recently organized group of dental health, education and community professionals. The team was organized in response to a community needs assessment prepared by the Office of Oral Health, Arkansas Department of Health in 2001.

UALR Share America and the Office of Oral Health, Arkansas Department of Health lead the team, but they rely on their many partners to provide care and support.

Students from the UAMS Dental Hygiene Program and area dentists volunteer their time to screen students at Franklin, Bale, Chicot, Wakefield, Wilson and Stephens Elementary Schools and at the UALR Neighborhood Homework Center. Delta Dental Plan of Arkansas provided a grant last year that purchased the portable dental equipment to perform screenings.

After the screening process, if a child is identified as needing additional dental care, UALR Share America helps parents identify resources such as AR Kids First to obtain treatment. The Share America program serves 1,800 children in the Little Rock Public Schools.

“February is National Children’s Dental Health Month and “Future Smiles” focuses on the importance of annual dental check-ups as an integral part of ensuring overall health,” said Cheryl Chapman, director of UALR Share America.

“The combination of community water fluoridation and dental sealants can prevent virtually all cavities,” said Dr. Lyn Mouden, Director of Arkansas Department of Health’s Office of Oral Health.

The team is taking further action to spread the message of prevention by producing and funding a radio spot that reminds parents of the importance of sealants. The spot will play in Central Arkansas, Fort Smith, the Delta region and the statewide Hispanic radio network Hola! Arkansas.

For more information about “Future Smiles” contact UALR Share America at (501) 663-5541 or Office of Oral Health at 661-2595.

Note: A complete list of Dental Health Action Team partners is provided in this media kit.

“FUTURE SMILES” FACT SHEET DENTAL SCREENINGS – FEBRUARY 2003 Sealing Out Dental Decay

Rarely does a person go through childhood without some cavities and fillings. Sealing the teeth with a plastic coating to protect them from bacteria can prevent much of this tooth decay. A dental hygienist or dentist applies the sealant in a painless process that takes only minutes. The process is much like painting on nail polish. If worn away, the sealant can be reapplied easily.

2001 Dental Screening Report

The Dental Health Action Team published the 2001 Dental Screening Report, prepared by Dr. Lynn Mouden, Director of the Office of Oral Health, Arkansas Department of Health, on April 2001. The report stated: access to dental care is unattainable for many children, evidenced by the high number of children with untreated dental decay (37.6%). Efforts and resources must be targeted to increase the use of dental sealants and assure that specific preventive and restorative dental services be provided to those children at greatest risk of oral disease.

Report Findings

  • 2,272 children were screened
  • 57.5% of all children surveyed had been affected by dental disease with an average of almost three decayed teeth per child
  • 1.7% of children examined, third grade and older, had at least one dental sealant; 37.6 % had untreated dental caries Future Smiles” and Its Successes
  • Scheduled 2,300 screenings during 2002-2003 school year
  • Implemented “Future Smiles”, a school-based dental sealant program and provided 109 sealants to children at Bale, Franklin, Stephens, Wilson, & Wakefield in 2002
  • Developed partnership with Delta Dental Plan of Arkansas to purchase additional equipment for expanding “Future Smiles” to serve more children in 2003
  • Published sealant brochures/PSA to support project

For more information about the project or interest in volunteering to assist with dental screenings, contact UALR Share America at 663-5541 or email cachapman@ualr.edu or cnstewart@ualr.edu. The Dental Action Team Members Specifically in the area of dental, UALR Share America formed the Dental Health Action Team, a coalition of organizations to address deficiencies and improve oral health of children. Share America and local partners have provided children with annual dental screenings, toothbrush kits, sealants, and transportation to dental clinics. The team members include:

  • Arkansas Advocates for Children & Families
  • University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
  • Delta Dental Plan of Arkansas
  • Arkansas Department of Health
  • Arkansas Department of Human Services
  • Arkansas Department of Education
  • Cooperative Extension, University of Arkansas
  • Arkansas Children’s Hospital
  • University of Arkansas at Little Rock
  • Little Rock School District
  • Arkansas State Dental Association
  • St. Vincent Health System
  • Arkansas Minority Health Commission
  • Community Volunteers
  • Colgate-Palmolive – Corporate Support
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