Monday, June 18 , 2018, 7:53 am | Fair 55º

 
 
 
 

Bill Cirone: Brighter Smiles and the Power of Partnerships

February 2016 marks National Children’s Dental Health Month. This month-long national health observance spotlights the thousands of dedicated dental healthcare and educational professionals who work in partnership to promote the benefits of good oral health to children, their caregivers and teachers.

On Feb. 2, 2016, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution, sponsored by Salud Carbajal, underscoring the importance of oral health to children and their education as well as supporting the work of the local collaborative.

A little known fact is that tooth decay is the most common illness affecting U.S. children today. Yet, we know that it can be prevented or improved with proper identification, preventative education and treatment.

The importance of prevention cannot be overstated. Untreated dental disease can be extremely painful, which in turn can cause poor academic performance and behavior problems.

It can also cause problems with chewing or speaking and reduce self-esteem. If dental disease is not treated early, it can result in the need for more serious and expensive intervention later.

The good news for Santa Barbara County school children is that a broad based local coalition of parents, educators, dental professionals, government and foundation officials are working together to address the problem.

More good news is that this coalition is making progress. The incidents of untreated dental disease are decreasing countywide, according to the results of recent State Preschool Dental Screenings.

Santa Maria students showed an incident rate of 20 percent last year — down from 50 percent just five years earlier. Goleta/Isla Vista’s incident rate is down 15 percent over the last five years. Lompoc’s incident rates have decreased by 11 percent over that same time period.

I salute the work of all involved in making such a difference. A special nod goes to the Public Health Department’s Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and Maternal Child & Adolescent Health (MCAH) programs, which offered preventative oral health education to 7,200 families in 2015.

In addition, the Santa Barbara County Education Office Health Linkages Program offered oral health education to 4,000 families with preschool children.

They also provide 8,000 fluoride varnish applications a year and have trained medical providers countywide to provide an additional 10,000 applications to children at well-child check ups.

Brighter smiles among our community’s children are also due to the efforts of local philanthropists and dentists.

Last year, local foundations provided over $820,000 for the Oral Health Collaborative’s “Children’s Orthodontia Project” for 2016-18. The grant will provide 100 low-income students per year, for two years, with orthodontia.

Ten high caliber community orthodontists are instrumental to this program, too. To participate in this project, each orthodontist is willing to take reduced fees to treat students.

“We have been coordinating efforts to address the unmet dental needs of the county’s children for over 25 years. Collaborations like this, with input and support from government officials, private practitioners and compassionate nonprofit organizations, are what make our work so gratifying,” say Health Linkages Program officials Georgene Lowe and MaryEllen Rehse. “People do care, and they demonstrate time and again their willingness to walk the walk.”

Talk about a perfect illustration of the power of partnerships. What a great local story to mark National Children’s Dental Health Month.

— Bill Cirone is Santa Barbara County’s superintendent of schools. The opinions expressed are his own.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level
×

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >