LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Feb. 10, 2004) – Hundreds of second- and third-graders at six Little Rock School District schools will have a chance to fight tooth decay this month thanks an ongoing UALR Share America dental health program, “Future Smiles.”

Throughout the month, members of dental health teams organized by UALR Share America will apply protective plastic sealants to the chewing surfaces and crevices of the teeth of participating children’s teeth. The plastic sealant will protect the teeth from bacteria, which accumulate on the chewing surfaces and crannies of children’s teeth causing cavities.

Cheryl Chapman, director of UALR Share America, said this month’s activities are part of an ongoing dental heath effort UALR Share America has organized at Franklin, Bale, Chicot, Wakefield, Wilson, and Stephens elementary 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 she said.

UALR Share American serves 1,800 children in Little Public Schools.

Chapman’s operation has partnered with 13 dental heath organizations and community professionals – including students from the UAMS Dental Hygiene Program and area dentists – to volunteer to dental screenings and sealants.

The Action Team has completed more than 6,000 dental screenings over the last three years in addition to the sealant program.

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

Delta Dental Plan of Arkansas, one of the Action Team members, provided a grant in 2002 that purchased portal equipment that can be moved to each school to perform the screenings.

If a screening identifies a child needing additional dental care, UALR Share American helps parents find resources to obtain additional treatment.

UALR Share American is the program in the United States funded by Children International, a Kansas City-based child sponsorship organization. UALR Share America has received over $4 million since the program started in 1994.

For more information, contact UALR Share America at (501) 663-5541.

A complete list of the Dental Health Action Team members is provided in the media kit.