Public health to treat children's teeth at school -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Public health to treat children's teeth at school

June 5, 2003

Albany -- Thousands of Georgia children may get their first trip to the dentist when school starts in August. Georgia's oral health program is expanding into all 159 counties.

Dental teams from the state's public health departments will set up at schools, and screen and clean the teeth of low income school children.

Eight-year-old Quatavius White is having some tooth pain, so he is visiting the dentist at the Health Department. Dentists from Public health will continue going to Southwest Georgia schools when they re-open. The goal is to treat first through 5th graders who qualify for the federal government lunch program, and do not have a dentist.

For many kids, it will be their first time seeing a dentist. Dr. Shootes said "One of the number one causes of children being out of school from research by school nurses is dental pain. "

 District Health Director Dr. Paul Newell said, "Teaching them good techniques of oral hygiene. Providing good preventative services , particularly sealants and flouride treatments. Then monitoring them over time. We think that's going to have a major impact on health."

This is the 75th year for the state's public health prevention program. But now the state has expanded its funding by one million dollars, to make sure tens of thousands of more mouths are healthy. Dr. Newell said "The mouth is the portal to the rest of the body. Ill health in the mouth has a very broad based impact on health."

A fleet of one dozen mobile dental offices will make regular rounds to serve Georgia's children. Last year they treated more than 180,000 children. This year they want to make sure all children in need are served.

Dr. Shootes said, "It's nice to see all the children's faces. Especially when you see they are in a lot of discomfort, and they are just glad to receive the treatment. And that we are changing their attitude toward their overall health."

The Southwest Georgia oral health program serves 14 counties. Early County was screened last spring. At the start of the school year Dr. Shootes and her dental team will treat kids in Grady County.

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