During February, we celebrate National Children's Dental Health Month so the column this month will focus on two of the services sponsored by the Washington County Health Department.
One of the lesser known programs at the WCHD is the Dental Sealant Program. This initiative is funded through a federal grant administered by the Ohio Department of Health and has been in existence since 1992. Dental sealants are effective tools in preventing the most common type of tooth decay seen in children today. The sealant is a safe plastic coating which keeps bacteria and germs out of the back teeth by covering the small gaps where germs and food can hide. Sealants work and are easy to apply with no drills or needles involved.
Each school year, WCHD contracts with dentists and dental hygienists throughout the area to meet with students in grades two and six in schools in Washington, Monroe, and Noble counties. The dentist examines the student teeth to determine the condition of the child's teeth and recommends either placement of sealants to prevent decay or refers the students with more serious dental problems to see a local dentist. The dental hygienist then places sealants on those students eligible for this service.
Dentists and hygienists also see the same children they have treated when they reach the third and seventh grades. At this visit, the dentist determines if the sealants are still in place, if more dental work is required, or if more sealants can be placed.
There are many area dentists and hygienists that help us with this program by spending time on their days off and going into the schools on behalf of the Washington County Health Department. We wish to thank all of them for their support and help in keeping this service going. Without their involvement, this service could not be offered in area schools.
For more information on the dental sealant program, call the Washington County Health Department at (740) 374-2782.
February also saw the return of the Southeastern Ohio Dental Clinic. Hours are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday. In the first two days of operation we were able to see 47 patients. We hope to continue to serve the population of Washington and Morgan counties through the clinic. The clinic serves not only those individuals with Medicaid, but also has a number of patients who pay for their services on a sliding fee scale based on the family income. We are off to a good start and just need to keep patients scheduled and attending the clinic. To make an appointment, the clinic can be reached at (740) 374-6242. Right now we are able to schedule patients with dental emergencies into the clinic within one or two business days. For patients needing a routine dental check-up and cleaning, we are scheduling for March and April at this time. Thank you to the staff and the community for your support of this service. With all of the community pulling together, we see a long future for this clinic.
Good dental health is important for the general health and wellbeing of all individuals. Research has shown that the effect of oral diseases that are not treated early can be serious and can lead to trouble learning and absence from school or work, more costly treatment of illness, and overall poor health.
For all of us it is good to remember a few simple tips to follow that can help promote good dental health
Seal out cavities with dental sealants.
Use fluoride-in drinking water, toothpaste and mouth rinse.
Brush at least twice a day.
Floss each day.
Eat well balanced meals and cut out sweets between meals.
Have regular dental checkups.
For more information on either of these programs check out our webpage at washco-ohhealth.org and look for us on Facebook.
Kathleen Meckstroth is executive director of the Washington County Health Department, 342 Muskingum Drive, Marietta.