A child crying out in the night with a toothache is sometimes the first
indication a parent has of a dental problem with their child. CBHA dental
providers want to identify oral health issues at the earliest possible
time. CBHA Chief Executive Officer Nieves Gomez is a staunch advocate
for children’s health – especially preventive care. “We
want to work within our communities to help facilitate and work with partners
like the North Franklin School District and the Othello School District
to reach as many children as possible,” he said.
Dental Hygienist, Lauren Spilles, divides her time between CBHA dental
clinics in Connell and Othello. She focuses on traditional patient care
in the dental offices in Connell. She also spends one day doing outreach
care in Othello. “We began a new program in July of this year for
children starting shortly after they are born through five years old,”
she said. “I do dental cleaning and instruction at the “well
Lauren likes to see the babies shortly after birth; at that point her focus
is on education such as cleaning a baby’s gums, the importance of
NOT allowing babies to go to sleep with a bottle in their mouth and other
tips to teach parents how to get their baby on the path to good oral health.
“I also discuss the benefits of breast feeding in regards to proper
facial development and tongue function.” It’s helpful for
parents to know what to watch out for as their child grows such as-how
to lift the lip and check for white spots on the teeth (possible early
indication of a cavity). Even though Lauren’s focus is on infants,
she also works with parents whose child is at high risk for dental decay.
Outside of the clinic walls, Lauren works with area school districts. CBHA’s
school based oral health program began with North Franklin and Kalotus
School District a few years ago but has been growing to include other
schools. The schools inform the parents ahead of time about this program
and obtain consent forms before the visit.
“We try to help out as much as we can with this process to make it
the least burdensome for the schools,” Lauren said. School staff
have been very helpful and supportive of this program. Oral health visits
generally occur twice per school year and include education, screening
and fluoride varnish with parental consent is also applied at those visits
with parental consent.”
Lauren said she is very mindful of the time students are taken out of the
classroom. While fluoride varnish takes only ten seconds to apply, it
is very effective in preventing cavities.
An oral health program was also added to the Othello School District Preschool
last spring. “This will be the first full year of the program and
we have now integrated our CBHA Eye Care team who accompanied our dental
team at the fall visit to the school; we will go back in the spring and
take our hearing team with us at that time.”
The screening findings are communicated to the caregivers in a letter.
Children identified as high risk of having barriers to care receive case
management and assistance as needed. The screening letters include any
areas of concern.
As part of the screening process CBHA collects data and issues a post-visit
report each school year summarizing the data for that year including the
total number of children screened, the percentage of children with decay,
the number with rampant decay and the number who have been referred due
to an area of concern. This data helps us track progress in our efforts
to keep CBHA kids cavity free and ready to focus on learning.