Monday Roundtable Luncheon
Dental caries, the disease process that causes tooth decay, is one of the most common chronic childhood diseases and disproportionately affects racial and ethnic minority populations. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the relationship between parent reported children’s oral health status, an oral health assessment conducted at a school-based dental program, and a tooth decay risk score.
Through a grant provided by the Delta Dental of Arkansas Foundation, trained senior nursing students from the University of Arkansas Eleanor Mann School of Nursing partnered with local school nurses to assess the oral health of a total of 456 three and four year old pre-school children in Northwest Arkansas, where a high percentage of children qualify for free and reduced school meals. Fluoride was applied to 436 children by the student nurses and ninety children, or 21%, were referred to a dentist for further evaluation and treatment.
The results from various data collection methods concluded that screening of children’s teeth and mouth enables early detection and referral to a dental professional for detailed examination and treatment can be effectively carried out by trained school nurses and nursing students. Results also indicate that need for increased oral health education programs in schools, possibly supported by leveraging funding between state, federal organizations in collaboration with local and national philanthropic organizations.