Tag Archives: dentistry

Should Elementary Schools Provide Preventative Dentistry Services?

As California educators struggle to boost student achievement across economic lines, teeth are holding them back.

Hundreds of thousands of low-income children suffering from dental disease, some with teeth rotted to the gum line, are presenting California school districts with a widespread public health problem.

Increasingly, dental health advocates are looking to schools to help solve the crisis. Several school districts, including Oakland Unified, are running innovative programs to provide dental care at no cost to students. Third-party insurers are billed whenever possible, but insurance is not a prerequisite for treatment.

school children at dentist

Meanwhile, a full-service dental clinic opened last year at Peres Elementary School in Richmond’s Iron Triangle neighborhood. The clinic offers everything from applying resin sealant to kids’ teeth — a vital preventive measure to stave off cavities and decay — to fillings and extractions. The West Contra Costa school district hopes to expand the model to other schools.

Dental disease is at “epidemic” levels among California children, according to the U.S. Surgeon General, and low-income children are disproportionately affected. They are 12 times more likely to miss school because of dental problems than children from higher-income families, according to a 2008 report by the Healthy States Initiative, a coalition sponsored by the Council of State Governments to study state health problems.

What’s more, students suffering from toothache tend to have lower grade-point averages than students with healthy teeth.

“The issue is huge,” said Gordon Jackson, director of the state Department of Education’s Coordinated Student Support and Adult Education Division, which oversees health, counseling and other support programs provided at schools. “Tooth decay remains one of the most chronic diseases for children and adolescents. As we’re having the conversation about California’s future and student academic achievement, we have to have a conversation about oral health as well.”

Inside the sleek new student health center at James Madison Middle School in Oakland, dental hygienist Linda G. Cannon has beamed her headlamp into the mouths of hundreds of students from the middle school and nearby Sobrante Park Elementary School.

Two days a week, during the physical education class period or the “sixth period” extra time, students spend about 50 minutes each in the baby-blue dental chair. With the whoosh of the suction tool as a soundtrack, Cannon screens for tooth decay, cleans teeth, applies fluoride varnish, which can help prevent tooth decay, and applies tooth sealant, an effective barrier to cavities, particularly on molars. The clinic doesn’t provide fillings or restorative dentistry to fix severe problems.

The Alameda County Public Health Department and The Atlantic Philanthropies, a New York-based private foundation, fund the dental services.

While Cannon said she’s starting to see signs of improvement in student dental health since the clinic opened in February 2011, the problem persists. “It sometimes looks like they’ve never been to the dentist,” she said.

Of the more than 400 students screened at James Madison in the past two years, nearly three quarters of elementary school students and just over half of middle school students showed signs of tooth decay, Cannon said.

While similar dental care programs operate in other districts, they are still a rarity in the state. Many other districts lack the resources to offer dental care, and still others balk at being asked to provide dental care on top of a rigorous curriculum.

Still, schools have a vested interest in addressing the issue.

Dental problems keep California students out of class an estimated 874,000 days a year, costing schools nearly $30 million in lost attendance based-funding, according to the 2007 California Health Interview Survey, an ongoing statewide survey by the Center for Health Policy Research at UC Los Angeles. The study is still considered the benchmark for children’s oral health.

Would you like to see this in your local Elementary Schools?

For any oral health concerns Contact Glasscock Dental

8430 Univ. Exec. Park Drive Suite 610 Charlotte, NC 28262

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Hookah vs. Cigarettes – Myths Answered

Many American campus-towns have begun to take on a Middle Eastern flair. The exotic practice of smoking flavored tobacco holds great appeal for students too young for the bar scene, who see hookah lounges and their colorful, communal water pipes as a great place to gather with friends.

HOOKAH MYTHS:

The first myth is that the water in the pipe filters out harmful contaminants, making hookah smoking less risky than cigarettes.

FALSE. The smoke from hookahs has been found to contain high concentrations of aerosols, carbon monoxide, nicotine, tar and heavy metals, which are ingested at greater rates than when smoking a cigarette. The charcoals used to heat the tobacco for smoking add to the toxic mix. None of these harmful substances are water soluble, and they are not “filtered out” by the hookah pipe.

During a typical hour-long session, according to a 2005 World Health Organization study, hookah smokers inhale 100 to 200 times the volume of smoke typically inhaled when smoking a single cigarette. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says the practice raises the risk of oral cancer, lung cancer, stomach cancer and esophageal cancer, along with reduced lung function and decreased fertility. Include the risk of spreading herpes, hepatitis and tuberculosis through shared mouthpieces and you have a recipe for a costly public-health problem.

Hookah smokers are also under the impression that their form of smoking is less addictive than cigarettes.

FALSE. Tobacco consumed in any form is addictive, and hookah tobacco is no exception. Though it may be sweetened, flavored and mixed with herbs and other substances, the tobacco remains nicotine-filled. The greater volumes of smoke involved translate into greater levels of nicotine exposure.

It is time for hookah smoking to be considered what it is: another form of
tobacco use, and one that is, if anything, more dangerous than cigarette
smoking. Public-education campaigns would help get the word out. Policy makers should take steps similar to those in 2009 when the Food and Drug Administration banned cigarettes flavored with clove, fruit or candy that might appeal to young people. Hookah smoking may look exotic, but its impact on public health is going to be all too familiar.

If you are a smoker, Contact Glasscock Dental with any of your oral health concerns.

8430 Univ. Exec. Park Drive Suite 610 Charlotte, NC 28262

READ MORE on the unhappy hookah http://online.wsj.com