Chuck Teegarden, Executive Director, Communities in Schools Spokane and
Amber Juliano, RDH BS, ToothSavers of Washington
Every April we celebrate National Public Health Week, which brings together communities to recognize the contributions of public health and highlights issues that are important to improving health. In Spokane County, an important public health topic is children’s oral health. Results of the most recent Washington State Department of Health Smile Survey, indicates that the oral health of children in Spokane County needs improvement. As part of the Smile Spokane Local Impact Network, Communities in Schools is partnering with ToothSavers, in leading the charge to help reduce this trend.
ToothSavers is a mobile community oral health program that brings care directly to patients. They provide preventive services such as oral screenings, dental sealants, and fluoride varnish along with oral health education in Spokane and surrounding area schools.
All children deserve the opportunity to reach their whole health potential.
According to the CDC, dental sealants prevent up to 80 percent of cavities in school-age children. In Spokane County, there are almost 35,000 children who didn’t see a dentist last year. Everyone benefits when oral health conditions are managed.
Bringing oral health services to the children
Kids spend the majority of their day at school, and transportation remains a major barrier for many children to see any dental provider. By bringing the services to children, with the help of portable equipment, ToothSavers is able to provide preventative care to kids in a comfortable space, such as a school office or an unused classroom.
Healthier communities and schools
Sealants are a thin plastic- like material painted and hardened in the deep grooves of the back teeth. Sealants are safe, painless, and effective at preventing cavities where kids get them most. A healthy mouth translates to improved attendance, and healthy students, which results in better learners. Communities in Schools and ToothSavers partner with several unconventional partners to improve the health of the children in our community.
- Vital Signs, Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Dental Sealants Prevent Cavities. Web Accessed 13 March 2018. https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/dental-sealants/
- Apple Health Medicaid Utilization Data, 2016. Health Care Authority.
- Dentistry: A Profession in Transition, American Dental Association. Web Accessed 13 March 2018. https://www.ada.org/~/media/ADA/Science%20and%20Research/HPI/Files/HPIgraphic_1015_1.pdf?la=en