On February 27th and March 4th, a team of public health nurses, registered dental hygienist, dental students, and AmeriCorps volunteers from the San Francisco Department of Public Health- Child Care Health Project and the University of California San Francisco School of Dentistry, with supplies generously donated from the Henry Schein Foundation, screened 152 children for dental decay at the Mission Child Care Consortium (MCCC), one of the largest preschools in San Francisco, CA. Because dental caries is the most chronic disease in young children and disproportionately affects low income families and ethnic minorities, it is important we screen these children early to prevent a lifelong struggle with decay and to promote school readiness.
The majority of the children at MCCC come from low-income, monolingual Spanish speaking families, and face many barriers to dental care. By conducting these screenings on site in the preschool setting, we were able to identify problems early and link children to dental homes, where they can receive necessary treatment. We saw a very high rate of decay, with 39% of the children needing follow-up care. This high number proves the necessity of early access to oral health care and that dental decay is a major problem in our youngest and most vulnerable population. Catching these problems early decreases the chance of serious infection and a potential lifetime of decay and pain.
We greatly appreciate the support the Henry Schein Foundation has shown by the donation of dental supplies to make these critical screenings possible, and in helping us in our efforts to end this entirely preventable disease.
Thank you Henry Schein!