Choptank Community Health System is celebrating National Children’s Dental Month this February by promoting the importance of good oral health for children and adolescents, including the cavity-preventing and cost-saving benefits of dental sealants.
National Children’s Dental Month is presented by the American Dental Association as a national health observance bringing together thousands of dedicated professionals, health care providers, and educators to promote the benefits of good oral health to children, their caregivers, teachers, and many others.
Dental sealants are thin, painless plastic coatings painted on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth to prevent tooth decay. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), dental sealants can reduce tooth decay in children by 80 percent. Even so, the application of dental sealants remains underutilized as less than half of children and adolescents have dental sealants on their teeth.
“Children’s teeth are meant to last a lifetime, and a healthy smile is important to a child’s self-esteem,” said Choptank Health Chief Dental Officer Sandra Garbely- Kerkovich, DMD. “We’re so glad to begin seeing our pediatric and school-based dental patients again for their dental sealant applications and their annual checkups. With proper care, a balanced diet and regular dental visits, our children’s teeth can remain healthy and strong.
“Our pediatric dental teams are also here to help educate parents,” says Garbely-Kerkovich. “We’re here to share the best ways for children to take care of their teeth, including when children should have their first dental visit, ways to prevent early childhood tooth decay, when to expect changes from primary to permanent teeth, proper brushing and flossing techniques, thumb sucking, dental sealants, choosing the right mouth protector for active children and adolescents, and more.”
Choptank Community Health System provides pediatric dental services for children and their families in its Cambridge, Denton, Federalsburg, Goldsboro, and St. Michaels offices.
Choptank additionally provides dental services to more than 5,500 students enrolled in its 30 School-Based Health Centers located in Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s, and Talbot County public schools.
“For many of our Mid-Shore students, our School-Based Health Centers are their only form of health care,” says Choptank Health CEO Sara Rich. “We’re grateful for our partnerships with local schools to bring this access to dental and medical health services to our students and their families.”
Rich says Choptank’s School-Based Health Centers provide in-person, virtual, and curbside well and urgent care, along with other services including health education and risk assessment, physical exams, dietary support, asthma management, and sick or acute care.
Choptank Health’s school-based dental services are provided by a dental hygienist at participating schools throughout the school year, with medical services additionally offered to enrolled students and school staff at participating schools.
School-based dental services include sealant applications and free dental screenings—which include examinations of the teeth and all soft tissues of the mouth—along with instruction on brushing and flossing, and education on the importance of eating healthy foods in good oral hygiene. Choptank Health’s dental case manager works with families in dental care coordination as a follow-up to the screenings.
Choptank Health recently announced a new primary care mobile health unit is being used to provide more accessibility to Choptank Health’s medical and dental School-Based Health Center services.
“The mobile unit provides us with the capability to truly meet our students where they are,” said Rich. “The unit will travel to Mid-Shore schools during the school year to help provide school-based medical and dental services.”
Rich says the mobile primary care unit will also be used over the summer months to provide a platform for Choptank Health’s migrant program team to visit various farms, agricultural nurseries, and crab houses across the Shore.”
“Dental health is so important to your overall health,” said Garbely-Kerkovich. “Healthy minds and bodies help support our children’s academic successes. Our School-Based Health Centers play a big part in helping to serve children and their families.”
Choptank Health’s dental services and offices are listed at www.choptankhealth.org, with student enrollment in Choptank Health’s School-Based Health Centers made by contacting your student’s Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s, or Talbot County public school.