Eastern Oregon Healthy Living Alliance released a report detailing the impact of the Healthy, Happy Smiles, a school-based oral health program, for the 2019-2020 school year.
Overall in the 2019-2020 school year, 51% of students returned parent consent forms, 42% of students received dental screenings, at least 36% of students received fluoride application and 14% of students received dental sealants. Forty-six percent of students received oral health education through the learning lab, 100% of students received free toothbrush kits and 36 students were referred to their provider for urgent dental care needs.
Grant County schools saw a small decrease in parent consent form return rate over this school year, with an overall parent consent form return rate of 65% compared to last year’s 67%. Grant County schools saw an increase in the number of students for 2019-2020 school year (from 710 students to 767 students).
Between the four participating schools, Prairie City, Seneca Elementary, Humbolt Elementary and Grant Union Junior-Senior High School, 492 students were screened, 50 received fluoride applications, 188 received silver diamine fluoride applications and 108 received sealants. Prairie City School and Seneca Elementary students received education through the learning lab.
Services provided through HHS include free dental screenings, fluoride varnish, silver diamine fluoride, sealants and follow-up for students identified to have urgent dental care needs. Expanded practice dental hygienists from Advantage Dental from DentaQuest administer these services. Fluoride application can result in 37% less cavities on baby teeth and 43% less cavities on permanent teeth, and the placement of dental sealants reduces the risk of cavities by 80%. Silver diamine fluoride looks like water but is a very powerful form of fluoride that can heal early tooth decay. Fillings may not be needed for cavities that are treated with silver diamine fluoride.
Through the HHS program, schools also have the opportunity to participate in a hands-on dental health learning lab. The lab features age appropriate educational material on brushing, flossing, fluoride, orthodontics, tooth anatomy, oral safety, tobacco’s effect on the mouth, sugary foods and drinks and dental careers. In addition, all students receive a free toothbrush kit containing a toothbrush and tooth paste.
All students in grades kindergarten through 12th grades at participating schools are eligible to receive services with parental consent regardless of insurance status. Parents who have not filled out a consent form are encouraged to contact their school. Services are performed by an expanded practice dental hygienist.
HHS is a school-based program provided in partnership with Advantage Dental from DentaQuest, serving 5,063 children in 30 schools across four counties, including Baker, Grant, Harney and Malheur in the 2019-2020 school year. All four participating counties are considered rural or frontier counties where 73% of children aged 6-9 have already experienced a cavity, compared to the state average of 52%.
HHS is funded by The Oregon Community Foundation through the Oregon Children’s Dental Health Initiative, which is in its fourth and final year. However, EOHLA is actively fundraising to continue the program for the 2020-2021 school year and beyond.