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Give Kids a Smile Takes to the Road in 2008

Published: March 25th, 2008

Category: Community Dentistry & Behavioral Science, Community Outreach, News

Give Kids a Smile Takes to the Road in 2008Give Kids A Smile (GKAS) is a national outreach sponsored by the American Dental Association (ADA) in association with Children’s Dental Health Month. The goal of the program is to reach dentally at-risk children through educational and restorative programs to promote lifelong oral and systemic health.

While GKAS is promoted nationally through the ADA, state and local dental associations, educational institutions and private dental practitioners provide tailored interventions to schools and various children’s organizations on a local level. In conjunction with community partners, the University of Florida sponsored three such interventions during the 2008 campaign.

Community Partners

DMD freshman Allison Konick and senior Ben Tindal examine Micanopy 9th grader Mathew Johnson.

DMD freshman Allison Konick and senior Ben Tindal examine Micanopy 9th grader Mathew Johnson.

  • University of Florida students and faculty
  • Alachua County Dental Association
  • Santa Fe Community College faculty, staff and students
  • Schein Dental Inc.
  • Alachua County Health Department
  • Alachua County School District
  • Gainesville Community Ministries
  • Private practice dentists and hygienists from the greater Gainesville community

Organization of outreach at the University of Florida

DMD sophomore Michael Gooch shows how to properly brush teeth.

DMD sophomore Michael Gooch shows how to properly brush teeth.

The University of Florida GKAS outreach was coordinated through the Community Based Programs office. After discussion with the Alachua County Dental Association Community Outreach representatives and the University of Florida administration, it was decided that the outreach would be divided into two efforts. The educational effort to middle school students would be organized through the University of Florida CBP office. The restorative effort would be organized through the Alachua County Dental Association and Alachua County Department of Health. Private practitioners from the Alachua County Dental Association were also encouraged to participate as individuals in an educational outreach to first grade classrooms. The rationale for this approach was to allow each organization a leadership role in a segment of the outreach and to maximize facility availability, decrease transportation costs, and provide increased efficiency in the use of financial and manpower resources available to each organization. Each of the organizations would offer the other support as needed during the planning process and outreach initiative.

University of Florida Middle School Initiative

Middle school children were chosen as the target population for the 2008 educational outreach. Middle school students are approaching greater independence in decision making and are influenced by multiple social and behavioral determinants on which to base the decisions that influence their health.

DMD sophomore Jason Kim educates students on the risks of smokeless tobacco.

DMD sophomore Jason Kim educates students on the risks of smokeless tobacco.

A review of oral health care, nutrition, tobacco abuse and soda and sports drinks consumption tailored to reflect the middle school child’s psyche and environment may assist the child in making informed, healthy choices during their teen years on into adulthood. Hawthorne Middle School and Micanopy Middle School were chosen for the intervention. Hawthorne Middle School services 185 children of whom many are socioeconomically and environmentally at risk. Micanopy Middle School serves 65 children. It is a new charter school serving a primarily rural population with as yet limited resources. Both schools are ethnically diverse. Through discussions with the school representatives, Hawthorne school nurse Mary Jean Mitchell and Micanopy principal Bobby Johnson, it was determined that some families in both schools had limited or no access to dental care. Both school representatives were happy that we chose the often overlooked middle school children for our intervention, and that the intervention could take place at the children’s own school.

Our interventions were scheduled for February 1, 2008 at Hawthorne and February 22, 2008 at Micanopy. Teams of dental students were recruited from all four dental classes, with junior and senior students acting as team leaders. The curriculum for the presentations was outlined by Dr. Carol Haggerty in Community Based Programs. The teams met with Dr. Haggerty to discuss the demographics of the schools, motivation and behavior in middle school children and creative presentation techniques to tailor the presentations for the target schools. The American Dental Association and its partners and the Schein Dental store at UF provided toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss and product bags for each child. Tobacco literature for each child was provided by the American Cancer Association and the National Spit Tobacco Education Program of Oral Health America. Community volunteers from the ACDA were Dr. Jay Garlitz, also faculty at UF, and Dr. Enrique Vargas. Joining us were Ms. Charlotte Trout, community dental hygienist, and Ms. Glenda Guarino, professor emeritus of Santa Fe Community College. Each team presented to a classroom of 21 to 33 children. Seven teams of three to four students went to Hawthorne classrooms and three teams of two to three students went to Micanopy on the assigned day.

Micanopy 7th grader Elizabeth Tallon gets a fluoride varnish application.

Micanopy 7th grader Elizabeth Tallon gets a fluoride varnish application.

In addition, the Micanopy Middle School administration agreed to allow visual dental screenings and fluoride varnish application for the 22 students whose parents gave us permission to provide this service. Parents were given feedback as to the results and the principal, Mr. Johnson, agreed to follow up on any child with emergent needs. 250 children received the educational outreach.

UF’s support role for the Alachua County Dental Association restorative outreach

The ACDA sponsored a one day restorative dentistry outreach to children in Alachua County organized by Dr. Alecia Mc Donald and Dr. Enrique Vargas. It was held at the Santa Fe Community College Dental Clinic on Saturday, March 1, 2008. UF participated in several planning discussions and provided a long list of restorative and disposable materials for the outreach (attached). Restorative materials from UF were taken from the CPB storage area where materials from previous initiatives were stored. There was no expense incurred for this donation and assured that these previously donated materials would be utilized prior to their expiration dates.

On the day of the outreach, 20 prescreened children, many referred by Gainesville Community Ministries, received comprehensive dental services. ACDA members were assisted by UF faculty, Dr. Jay Garlitz, Dr. David Stillwell and Dr. Carol Haggerty. UF dental students and Santa Fe dental assisting and dental hygiene students acted as assistants for ACDA practitioners. Community dental hygienists applied sealants. SFCC staff and faculty and the Alachua County Health Department staff handled logistics, patient charts, reception duties and sterilization needs. Children with needs beyond those available at the SFCC were offered a dental home by private practitioners in the area.

Follow-up

Dr. Carol Haggerty of UFCD Community Based Programs applies fluoride varnish on Micanopy 9th grader Jualenia Foster.

Dr. Carol Haggerty of UFCD Community Based Programs applies fluoride varnish on Micanopy 9th grader Jualenia Foster.

Thank you letters and follow-up telephone calls went out to each of the educational outreach schools for allowing us to present our information to their students. The feedback was very positive and school administrators wished to thank the University of Florida College of Dentistry for the time and attention given to their students. They were very grateful that the outreach could be done at the schools, since the age and numbers of the students and the costs associated with the transport may have made it difficult to serve this population otherwise. They would like to be considered for further outreach opportunities in the future. UF students and faculty came away with positive responses to their experiences, hoping to do similar initiatives in the future. Community partnerships and sustainable programs were initiated. Dental students worked creatively with faculty and staff and practiced leadership skills useful in their career paths.

A brief follow-up meeting with the ACDA determined that the restorative outreach was successful. It was also sustainable, and reinforced organizational and practitioner partnerships in the community. It gave the ACDA a chance for solid leadership in the restorative initiative with plans to continue this role in the future. Plans to review, revise and/or expand this part of GKAS will be discussed at future meetings with the partners who participated in the initiative.

Both initiatives brought together talents and resources whose collaborative whole was far greater than the sum of its parts.