- Monitor children’s oral health status
- Offer preventive dental services for children at high risk for dental caries
- Provide community-based service-learning experiences for dental students and residents. Participation in these programs provides students with an appreciation of access to dental care issues in the community, the importance of preventive care, and their earliest clinical experience
Community Surveillance Program
The oral health surveillance system was designed by Dr. Scott Tomar to provide an ongoing countywide estimate of the oral health status of 3rd grade children in Alachua County. The program allows us to take a snapshot of the county’s oral health needs, plan oral health programs, and evaluate the effectiveness of existing programs.
In a dental screening, we are able to identify visually obvious oral conditions. We can determine whether a child has treated decay, caries experience, or if they have sealants. If obvious treatment is needed, we rank its urgency, and send home a letter to parents informing them of treatment needs. Children also receive a “treat” bag with toothbrush, toothpaste and floss.
The surveillance system includes all 23 public elementary schools in Alachua County and approximately 2,000 3rd graders each year. The inclusion of dental screening in annual elementary school health screenings is the result of a long-term collaborative effort with the School Board of Alachua County, school nurses, and individual schools. With this program in place, we have documented an increase in sealant prevalence from 36% to 50% between 2011 and 2013.
Funding for this program is provided by the Alachua County Oral Health Coalition through a grant from the DentaQuest Foundation. The dental examinations are performed by students under the supervision of faculty from UFCD and Santa Fe College Dental Hygiene School, as well as volunteer dental providers from the community and CDBS faculty Our success in Alachua County led to the development of an oral health surveillance system in Collier County, supported by a grant from the Naples Children & Education Foundation. Each year, more than 2,600 3rd graders in all 28 public elementary schools in Collier County receive dental screening.
Collier County Community Outreach and Prevention
With generous support from the Naples Children & Education Foundation (NCEF), UF College of Dentistry provides a broad range of community outreach and prevention services throughout Collier County. The many activities in this initiative are directed and coordinated by Susan Gorman, RDH, MSEd.. In collaboration with the Collier County School Board, we initiated an oral health surveillance system that tracks the oral health status of 3rd grade students in the county. Nearly 3,000 children at all public schools in Collier County are screened each year for basic oral health indicators, which helps us target our prevention efforts and monitor our progress.
We have expanded the number of schools in Collier that are served by a school-based sealant program, and about 250 children in 8 elementary schools received dental sealants from our program in the 2014–15 school year. The project provides parental education and screening and fluoride varnish application for young children in the WIC centers in Collier County, and served more than 900 young children and their families during the past year. We also provide parental education to families of children seen in the NCEF Pediatric Dental Center, and last year reached almost 2,000 children and their caregivers.
The Alachua County school-based sealant program was initiated in 2010 by the UF College of Dentistry in collaboration with United Way of North Central Florida. In this program, we provide dental sealants for 2nd and 6th graders in schools with high levels of disease and limited access to dental care and then provide retention checks among 3rd and 7th graders.
Dental sealants are a safe plastic cover painted on the grooves of the back teeth to cover up the grooves and give a smooth surface for brushing. Without sealants, toothbrushes are unable to effectively clean these areas. Sealants help to prevent tooth decay, lower the risk of cavities and the need for fillings, save on costly dental bills, and save time at future dental visits.
Since 2010, the sealant program has provided free dental exams, oral hygiene instruction, fluoride varnish, and dental sealants for more than 1,600 children in 14 different elementary and middle schools in Alachua County.
Funding for this program is provided by: United Way, Oral Health America, UF-HRSA grant, and Medicaid reimbursement, and services are provided by CDBS staff as well as UF dental students and Santa Fe College dental hygiene students under the supervision of faculty Since 2013, community dentists have started “adopting” schools to provide sealants, and have helped increase the number of children being served by the program.
Starting in 2013, we initiated a school-based sealant program in four schools in Collier County, which is expanding to 8 schools in the 2014–2015 school year. The program provides service learning for Pediatric Dentistry residents and is supported by a grant from the Naples Children & Education Foundation. Sealant Program Consent Form
In the WIC (Women, Infant, Child) program, we focus on teaching about prevention. Under the direction of Jaana Gold, DDS, PhD and Kelly Raulerson, RDH, the department provides the following services at each appointment:
- Complete oral exam
- Topical fluoride varnish treatment on all children
- Nutrition counseling
At the appointment, we review oral hygiene instructions and show parents how to properly brush their children’s teeth. We also explain the importance of brushing a child’s teeth before bed.
During the nutrition counseling, we discuss eating habits that contribute to tooth decay, such as going to bed with something to drink other than water or limiting the amount of sugary snacks consumed. We also teach parents about the hidden sugars in products like “natural” juices and “healthy” cereals.
For the women in the WIC program, we provide oral exams and teach pregnant women how to care for their baby’s teeth before the child is born. Children that are under the age of 3.5 with active tooth decay are referred to the Infant Oral Health Clinic at UF Pediatric Dental clinic for treatment. ACORN Dental Clinic has partnered with us to help women with dental needs by sponsoring up to $300 a month in dental services for a mother who could not otherwise afford those services.
The dental services for the WIC program are free to all WIC participants. Clients are seen on a walk-in basis and parents can sign up for their dental visit on the days that we have dental clinic in the WIC office. Currently, we provide dental services to the WIC clients 1-2 times a week on Mondays and Thursdays.
We also partner with the UF College of Dentistry 2nd year dental students, the College of Nursing ARNP program, and the College of Medicine Physician Assistant program. This partnership allows us to provide a teaching and learning experience for the students involved in these programs.
In collaboration with the Collier County Health Department, we also provide education and prevention services for women and their young children at three WIC centers in Collier County. That initiative is supported by a grant from the Naples Children & Education Foundation.
The focus of the Head Start Dental program is education and prevention. The department of CDBS has been working with the Head Start program since 2010. Dr. Micaela Gibbs directs this program with the help of Kelly Raulerson, RDH and 2nd year UFCD students.
The Head Start program has government mandated requirements that every student in the program to have a dental screening before entering the program each year. The Head Start Dental program services children from the ages of 3-5 years old. During the spring and summer, we screen all of the Head Start students by giving each student a dental exam and a fluoride varnish, giving the parents oral hygiene instructions, and counseling the parents on nutrition habits that could contribute to dental disease. For students 3.5 years old and younger that have active decay, we refer to the Infant Oral Health Clinic for treatment.
Twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring, Dr. Gibbs and her team go to the schools and apply fluoride to the Head Start student’s teeth. Studies have shown that children who receive at least four fluoride varnishes before the age of 4 reduce the risk of decay by almost 40%.