Some were a little nervous about having their mouths checked, but in the end, a group of Y Early Learning Program children all benefited from dental screenings.
The youngsters received a dental screening, and in some cases fluoride varnish on their teeth during a recent session conducted by hygienist Susan Gorman, fellow hygienist Angelica Galindo and dental assistants Yuni Diaz-Pratz and Yohana Hernandez.
The team visits 31 Collier County elementary schools performing dental screenings as well as early childhood daycare centers on a regular rotation basis, said Gorman.
The program is under the umbrella of the University of Florida, and is funded by a grant from the Naples Children and Education Foundation.
“It’s not an exam, but a screening,” Gorman said. “We place the fluoride varnish if the parents have given permission, and we send them a form letting them know how their children’s teeth look, and refer them to establish a ‘dental home.’”
The form describes whether children have no obvious dental problems; or have some teeth that should be evaluated by the family dentist; or have some teeth that appear to require immediate care.
On this particular day, a numberof the 45 children screened were recommended to have professional evaluations.
Gorman said that the county in general has a high decay rate.
The reasons, she said, can be socio-economic, but also related to poor diet, and the lack of dental access for exams from an early age.
“It’s a multi-faceted problem,” she said. “It’s important for children from about the age of one to have a ‘dental home’ (a family dentist). Also, first teeth are an indication of possibly the health of what the second teeth will be.”
She said parents often don’t know that cavities can be “passed on” to family members through bacteria associated with those cavities.
On this particular day, some of the kids were quite happy to submit themselves to the chair, while others were a bit reticent.
“I’m just going to count your teeth,” said one of the hygienists gently to a slightly nervous child as she used a mirror to check for possible evidence of cavities or infection.
The child was none the wiser about the ruse, but more than likely will benefit for a lifetime as he becomes used to routine check-ups that translate directly to dental health.