On Dec. 19, 2013, Scott Tomar, D.M.D., M.P.H., Dr.PH., went before the Gainesville City Commission to present the findings of this year’s Alachua County Third Grade Oral Health Screening and the WIC Prevention Program.
The presentation was intended to raise awareness among local policymakers of the serious oral health needs in our community, and advocate for the city’s support in bringing dental prevention and treatment services to our neighborhoods and sustaining our community-based prevention program. Tomar, a professor in the UF Department of Community Dentistry and Behavioral Science, plans to make similar presentations to other city and county commissions.
Some key findings he shared:
- More than one-half of the children in Alachua County have experienced dental caries by third grade
- Nearly one third of third graders have untreated cavities, which puts our county in the highest quartile nationally
- About 8 percent of third graders in Alachua County need urgent care, which means they currently have dental pain or clinical sign of dental infection
- One third of children age 0-3 years screened at WIC on NW 57th St. needed to be referred to our Infant Oral Health Clinic for treatment
- 29 percent of children age 3-5 years had untreated cavities, more than double the national prevalence
- Our dental sealant program is making a huge difference in this county, increasing the prevalence of sealants by about 14 percentage points in the past three years and had the greatest impact in schools that used to have the lowest prevalence of sealants in the county.
- In addition, there were 2,373 visits to hospital emergency departments by Alachua County residents for dental problems in 2012, generating charges of $3.14 million, even though none of the emergency departments are staffed or equipped to provide definitive dental care. Most of the visits were made by adults age 18-49 years.