Low-income kids to get dental care in schoolsWhen Children’s Dental Services identified Clay County as one of the two least-served counties in the state in terms of available dental care for children of low-income families, the Moorhead School Board readily agreed to a service that could change that.
By: Wendy Reuer, INFORUM
When Children’s Dental Services identified Clay County as one of the two least-served counties in the state in terms of available dental care for children of low-income families, the Moorhead School Board readily agreed to a service that could change that.
Leslie Witte, county coordinator for the Child and Teen Check Up Program with Clay County Public Health, said although local dentists have been willing to take on young patients on benefit programs, the number of dental practices simply can’t keep up with the growing need.
“In the past, we have had marvelous relationships with dental offices accepting children on services. The issue is that the number of children has just grown. The dentists just can’t take on more patients,” Witte said.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, tooth decay continues to be the most common chronic disease among American children.
The agreement between Moorhead Area Schools and Children’s Dental Services will allow the nonprofit to begin visiting schools during the second semester of the 2010-11 school year. Children’s Dental Services provides on-site preventative and basic care to children from low-income families at no cost to the school system.
The program aids groups of children that are at the most risk for suffering from chronic dental issues. Also according to the Health Department, low-income and minority children disproportionately experience decay in their primary teeth. Overall, national epidemiological surveys show that nearly one-in-five U.S. children ages 2 to 4 have visually evident tooth decay.
These dental health problems can expand far beyond the mouth, leading to chronic and serious conditions.
Witte said research has shown health issues such as heart and lung disease, stroke, low birth rate and premature births have been linked to periodontal issues.
Children’s Dental Services will be responsible for all medical records, equipment and liability. The school district simply needs to provide a space for examinations.
Jill Skarvold, director of learner support services for Moorhead Area Schools, said Children’s Dental Services provides a needed service to the community, with no risk to the school system, while not detracting from local business.
“They are not taking away from any of the practices from within the area because they are really only there for that niche – providing dental care to those children who do not have access to dental care,” Skarvold said.
Children’s Dental Services has been providing services to Minnesota children since 1919. It transports the equipment and materials needed for basic and preventative dental services to schools. Skarvold said Children’s Dental Services recruits student dental hygienists from area colleges. Local dentists volunteer their time, usually on Fridays when most dental offices are closed.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530