School-Based Programs

Oral Health Surveillance Program

varnish program

The Oral Health Surveillance Program was designed to provide an ongoing countywide estimate of the oral health status of third grade children in Alachua County. The program allows the College of Dentistry’s Department of Community Dentistry and Behavioral Science to take a snapshot of the county’s oral health needs, plan oral health programs, and evaluate the effectiveness of existing programs.

Dental screenings allow us to identify visually obvious oral conditions and determine whether a child has untreated tooth decay, has received treatment for caries, or if they have dental sealants. If dental treatment is needed, we rank its urgency and send home a letter to parents informing them of treatment needs. Children also receive a goodie bag with toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss.

The Oral Health Surveillance Program includes all 21 public elementary schools in Alachua County and provides dental screenings for approximately 2,000 third graders each year. The inclusion of dental screenings in annual elementary school health screenings is the result of a long-term collaborative effort with the School Board of Alachua County, school nurses, and individual schools. Since this program’s inception in 2011, we have documented an increase in the prevalence of dental sealants in Alachua County’s third grade students.

Dental screenings are performed by CDBS clinical faculty and staff, along with UF dental students and Santa Fe College dental hygiene students under faculty supervision.

Expansion to Collier County

Our success in Alachua County has led to the development of an oral health surveillance system in Collier County, supported by a grant from the Naples Children & Education Foundation. Each year, more than 2,600 third graders in all 36 public elementary schools in Collier County receive dental screenings.

School-Based Dental Sealant Program

dental sealant program

The Alachua County School-Based Dental Sealant Program was initiated in 2010 by the UF College of Dentistry in collaboration with United Way of North Central Florida. Through the school-based dental sealant program, we provide dental sealants for elementary and middle school students in Title 1 schools throughout the county with high levels of dental disease as identified in our Oral Health Surveillance Program.

Dental sealants are a safe plastic coating painted on the biting surface of back teeth to cover up the grooves and provide a smooth surface for brushing. Dental sealants help to prevent tooth decay, reduce the need for dental fillings, and save time and money at future dental visits.

Each year, the School-Based Dental Sealant Program serves over 750 children across 11 schools, and provides over $115,000 worth of preventive dental services at no cost to patients, including dental exams, oral hygiene instructions, placement of dental sealants, and application of fluoride varnish. For those children found to have existing cavities, our program also utilizes Silver Diamine Fluoride, or SDF, an antimicrobial liquid that halts the progression of tooth decay, as well as the placement of protective tooth-colored SMART fillings on primary teeth.

By utilizing portable equipment and skilled providers, high-quality preventive care is provided in a convenient and safe setting to children and families. Services are provided by CDBS clinical faculty and staff, as well as UF dental students and Santa Fe College dental hygiene students under faculty supervision. Local dental practitioners have also “adopted” schools and volunteered their time to provide preventive services to children in their community as part of our program.

Head Start Fluoride Varnish Program

Geena Head Start Program

Head Start Programs promote the school readiness of preschool-aged children from low-income households. As part of our collaboration with Head Start Programs in Alachua County, CDBS clinical faculty and staff provide free preventive dental services to enrolled students throughout the school year. This includes a dental exam and biannual applications of fluoride varnish, once in the Fall and again in the Spring.

Each year CDBS Community Outreach programs provide $15,000 in preventive dental services to approximately 500 Head Start students, by providing dental exams, silver diamine fluoride applications, and fluoride varnish applications each fall and spring semester. For children found to have existing cavities, Silver Diamine Fluoride is used to arrest tooth decay and prevent it from further progressing.