More than 250 Grant County students received dental screenings through the Healthy, Happy Smiles program last school year.
In its second year, the free school-based program was offered at Grant and Prairie City school districts. Of 766 students, 48 percent returned consent forms, 37 percent received screenings, 32 percent received fluoride applications and 10 percent received dental sealants, according to a report by the Eastern Oregon Healthy Living Alliance.
The program was expanded this year to include Grant Union Junior-Senior High School and all grades at Humbolt Elementary. Consent form return rates were only 25 percent at Grant Union in its first year, reducing the county’s overall return rate, which was 63 percent last year. Seneca School had a 100 percent return rate.
The program partners with Advantage Dental to provide the services, which are free for all students regardless of insurance status.
Offered in 29 schools in Grant, Harney, Baker and Malheur counties, the program covered 4,670 students, with 40 percent receiving dental screenings, 35 percent receiving fluoride, 14 percent receiving dental sealants and 60 percent receiving oral health education through a learning lab.
The four counties are considered rural, where 73 percent of children ages 6-9 have already had a cavity, compared to the state average of 52 percent.
Fluoride application can result in 43 percent fewer cavities on permanent teeth, and dental sealants reduce cavity risk by 80 percent.
The Oregon Children’s Dental Health Initiative awarded a $70,000 grant to provide the program next year. For more information, visit eohla.org/programs.