Healthy, Happy Smiles Releases Report Detailing Impact to Children's Oral Health in Participating Schoolsin Harney, Grant, Baker, and Malheur Counties

The Eastern Oregon Healthy Living Alliance (EOHLA) has released a report for Healthy, Happy Smiles, a program that provides free dental services and oral health education through the 2017-2018 school year offered to 4670 school-aged children in Kindergarten through 12th grades in 29 schools in Harney, Grant, Baker, and Malheur counties. The report can be found at http://eohla.org/programs/.
June 7, 2018 2018 (Lakeview, OR) – The Healthy, Happy Smiles program report describes its impact providing school-based dental services to participating children in the schools. 40% of students received dental screenings; at least 35% of students received fluoride application; 14% of students received dental sealants, 60% of students received oral health education through a learning lab; 100% of students received free toothbrush kits; and 28 students were referred to their provider for urgent dental care needs.
Healthy, Happy Smiles is in its second year serving eastern Oregon schools, and it improved its student participation from year one to year two. Over the prior year, parent consent forms improved by 21%; screenings increased by 8%; fluoride application improved by 12% and the dental sealant goal of 20% was met in Harney and Baker counties. Program improvements are largely attributed to established relationships with key partners, schools, program staff, and partners more familiar with one another and with implementation protocols such as effective use of incentives and a year of experience and better understanding of how to manage a successful program.
EOHLA partners with Advantage Dental who provides the dental services with Healthy, Happy Smiles, including free dental screenings, fluoride application, dental sealants and follow up with kids identified with urgent dental care needs. Fluoride application can result in 37% less cavities on baby teeth, and 43% less cavities on permanent teeth and can include either a fluoride varnish or silver diamine fluoride. Silver diamine fluoride looks like water but is a very powerful form of fluoride that can heal early tooth decay. Fillings may not be needed for cavities that are treated with silver diamine fluoride. The placement of dental sealants reduces the risk of cavities by 80%. All services are performed by an expanded practice dental hygienist with Advantage Dental. All students in grades kindergarten through 12th grades at participating schools, regardless of insurance status, are eligible to receive services with parental consent
Schools also have the opportunity to participate in a hands-on dental health learning lab, provided by EOHLA and local volunteers. The lab features age appropriate educational material on brushing, flossing, fluoride, orthodontics, tooth anatomy, oral safety, tobacco’s effect on the mouth, sugary foods and drinks, and dental careers. In addition, all students receive a free toothbrush kit containing a toothbrush and tooth paste.
All four participating counties are considered rural or frontier counties where 73% of children aged 6-9 have already experienced a cavity, compared to the state average of 52% (Oregon Smile Survey. 2012). Together the four counties cover 27,773 square miles of eastern Oregon where there are limited services. For example, Fields Elementary in Harney County is 112 miles from the nearest dental office. By going to where the children are, Healthy, Happy Smiles helps to decrease access barriers and demonstrate that oral health is both important and a routine part of health monitoring and prevention services.
EOHLA has been awarded a $70,000 grant through the Oregon Children’s Dental Health Initiative to provide the program in the 2018-2019 school year
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Eastern Oregon Healthy Living Alliance was formed in 2014 to improve community health in eastern Oregon by by focusing on health priorities and strategies within the Regional Community Health Improvement Plan and to support community health development in eastern Oregon. EOHLA consists of a governing board with member representation from each of the 12 counties that comprise the Eastern Oregon Coordinated Care Organization (EOCCO).
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