County of Sonoma California

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Groundbreaking Dental Health Program in Schools Helps Hundreds of Kids Keep Healthy Smiles

January 9, 2014
Contact: Kim Caldewey: (707) 565-4837

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Santa Rosa, CA - In the first-of-its-kind dental health program for young children in Sonoma County, hundreds of students are receiving dental care and education at their schools through the Sonoma County Department of Health Services. This pilot program launches at four elementary schools and one middle school in Santa Rosa and two elementary schools Petaluma.

More than 1200 students are being offered free dental assessments and anti-cavity sealant treatments as well as receiving dental health education in classrooms. Dentists recommend that a child get sealants (thin coatings on the chewing surfaces of permanent teeth) on their back teeth around the age of 6 or 7 to prevent cavities.

"One-third of all missed school days in elementary school are due to children who have unmet dental needs", said Rita Scardaci, Sonoma County Director of Health Services. "This partnership with local schools provides access to important preventative treatments that keeps children in school."

"Children sitting in school with pain from cavities and infections don't learn." said Dr. Alicia Henderson, Bellevue Union School District Superintendent. "Anything we can do to improve dental health for our students is a win."

Early prevention of tooth decay is the key to healthy teeth for a healthy life, avoiding chronic disease in the future. Kids seen in this school-based dental program who have cavities are referred for care. All students receive in-classroom education on easy ways to keep teeth healthy.

"We keep it a pretty simple process so that the kids feel comfortable and remember some important health tips," said Dr. Susan Cooper, who, along with Kathy Kane, Registered Dental Hygienist in Alternative Practice, is the lead organizer of the pilot program.

"All our kids deserve to have healthy teeth." said Edith Garcia, a parent with a son at Kawana Academy of Arts and Science Elementary School. "Preventive treatments like sealants save families money before more serious and expensive dental problems develop."

"The unfortunate fact is that each day in Sonoma County nearly a dozen children need to undergo general anesthesia to repair teeth damaged from dental decay," added Cooper. "Dental sealants are one of the top ways to reduce the incidence of dental disease in children."

For more information on the Department's Dental Sealant Program or the Healthy Teeth for Healthy Life campaign, please contact the County at Visit our Facebook page:!/SonomaCountyDHS

Media Tour/Presentation

WHAT: School-based Dental Health Pilot Program

WHO: Health/School Officials, Dentist/School Nurse, Parents, Students

WHEN: 10:00 a.m. Tuesday, January 14, 2014

WHERE: Kawana Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2121 Moraga Drive, Santa Rosa CA 95404

**PHOTO OP: Tour of elementary school students receiving dental health assessments and in-classroom education

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