Dental pilot program kicks off at Salina

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Photo by Bob Oliver
Wayne County Community College District students Renee Laskowski (left), Lisa Lewis and Francesca Biundo instruct Salina Elementary second-graders on which healthy snacks to eat during the Feb. 3 kickoff of the new partnership between ACCESS and Delta Dental that will allow preventative and followup dental care to eligible children in 15 Dearborn elementary and middle schools.

By BOB OLIVER
Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN – A new program designed to provide dental care to children in the city began last week.

The state’s first school-linked dental sealant/care pilot program, created by the coalition of ACCESS, the Michigan Department of Community Health and Delta Dental Foundation, was announced at Salina Elementary School Feb. 3.

As part of the pilot program, eligible children at 15 Dearborn Public Schools will receive preventive and followup dental care for free.

Schools participating in the program include Salina Elementary, Salina Intermediate, Geer Park Elementary, William Ford Elementary, McDonald Elementary, Lowrey Elementary and Woodworth Middle.

ACCESS Community Health and Research Center Senior Director Adnan Hammad said Arab-Americans are subject to oral health disparities because of cultural and linguistic barriers and limited access to dental care.

“What we are doing today is history,” Hammad said. “The most humane and effective way to insure health is by disease prevention and healthy promotions.”

He added that he would like to see the program go from a pilot status to full-time implementation.

“We can’t just uncover the lid and cover it again in one year,” Hammad said. “This program must continue in order to ensure that our children are healthy all the time, not just one year.”

MDCH Director James Haveman said the No. 2 health problem facing children in the United States is tooth decay and added that sealants can combat that.

Sealants are applied to teeth that are structurally sound without any cracks or cavities. They coat the tooth and are used to fight decay.

“Sealants make a huge difference and they are quick, easy and painless to apply,” Haveman said. “They can do amazing things to reduce cavities and tooth decay.”

Salina Elementary Principal Susan Stanley said the program was wonderful for the community.

“This is very good for our students and their families,” Stanley said. “Working to improve the health of the students and educating them about dental care is so important. This type of program is needed in every community.”

After remarks from Hammad and Haveman, students were split up between five tables staffed by Wayne County Community College District dental students, who each selected a different area of oral care to teach the first- and second-graders, including how to properly brush your teeth and which snacks to eat and avoid.

About 30 students were also able to have a molar screening and sealant application by ACCESS Dental Hygienist Marwa Olayan.

Olayan said the goal is to have 500 DPS students screened and checked by October.

(Bob Oliver can be reached at boliver@bewickpublications.com.)