Contact: Lawrence Cook
September 30, 2010
EAST HARTFORD—State Senator Gary D. LeBeau (D-East Hartford) and Dr. Stephen Muench of Kool Smiles today celebrated October as ‘National Dental Hygiene Month’ by arranging for all 537 kindergarten students in East Hartford to receive free dental hygiene kits containing a toothbrush, toothpaste and dental floss.
More than five dozen such kits were delivered this morning to kindergarteners at the Silver Lane Elementary School in East Hartford.
“After the common cold, the most common chronic childhood disease is cavities—and they’re mostly preventable with good brushing habits and proper nutrition,” Sen. LeBeau said. “If we can get children to start good brushing and flossing habits early, and get them in the habit of seeing a dentist regularly, then they’ll be on the right track into adulthood. A lot of kids in East Hartford already have access to great dental services through our school-based health clinics. Today’s event serves as an important reminder of just how vital good dental health is.”
“Beginning great oral health habits early will ultimately lead to healthier, more self-confident children who can do better in school. We’re proud to partner with Senator LeBeau to make sure that every kindergarten student in East Hartford has the access to the care that they need to create a smile for a lifetime,” said Dr. Muench, who is the Regional Dental Director for Kool Smiles.
Kool Smiles will open a dental office at 1888 Main Street in Hartford on October 11.
Overall dental health has been improving in the United States for years, but children have not benefited at the same rates as adults. The proportion of children between 2 and 5 years old with cavities actually increased 15 percent over the past decade, according to a 2007 report from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
That same survey found that poor children continue to suffer the most from dental decay: kids ages 2 to 11 whose families live below the federal poverty level are twice as likely to have untreated decay as their more affluent peers. The free dental kits were distributed this morning in a kindergarten classroom and in the Silver Lane Elementary School’s school-based health clinic (SBHC), which has been run by Integrated Health Services, Inc. since 1998.
In just the past year, the Silver Lane SBHC dental program provided more than 2,900 dental services to 939 East Hartford school children, most of whom are on Connecticut’s HUSKY health-care program for low-income families.
“Consistent exposure to child-friendly dental staff, preventive education supported by teachers and administration, and access to dental services on-site is vital to significantly improving children’s oral health,” said Deborah Poerio, President/CEO of Integrated Health Services. “Thanks to funding from the state Department of Social Services, we were able to hire a dentist who could offer restorative care at the schools, and we reduced the untreated rate of decay that we had from 60 percent to less than 3 percent in just over a year,”
SBHCs are free-standing medical clinics located within or on school grounds serving students in grades pre-kindergarten through 12. The centers are staffed by a multi-disciplinary team of professionals with particular expertise in pediatric and adolescent health, including advanced practice registered nurses, physician assistants, social workers, physicians, and—in some cases—dentists and dental hygienists. They provide primary medical and mental health services to students at the school regardless of insurance coverage.
There are currently 72 state-funded SBHCs located in 19 communities statewide providing care to more than 144,000 children.
Member: Legislative Management
Hartford, CT 06106-1591
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