Access to preventative dental care is a severe problem across the nation. With a recent Center for Disease Control study announcing that nearly half of American adults suffer from periodontal disease and premature tooth decay running rampant among our youth, many communities are implementing initiatives to help slow, and eventually stop this trend. One such program can be found right here in the Miami area with the Miami-Dade County Health Department and the Health Foundation of South Florida’s own “Seals on Wheels Mobile Dental Program.”
The program, launched in 2007, provides preventive dental services to 2nd and 7th grade public school children in Miami-Dade County. Services offered include oral screenings, oral hygiene instructions, teeth cleanings, fluoride varnish treatments, x-rays, and sealants. The services are free of charge and provided at several schools around the county. When school is not in session, the mobile dental program can be found participating at health fairs and outreach programs. They also provide care to childcare centers, offering screenings, fluoride varnishes, and oral hygiene instructions to children aged 0-5. The goal is to provide access to as many under or uninsured children as possible to try to change the future of oral health in the area. Education plays a large role in fighting this silent epidemic that is quickly spreading around the nation.
The clever name, Seals on Wheels, is a play off of one of the available treatments, sealants. The most common location of cavities found in children is in the grooves of the chewing surfaces of the tooth. These grooves can be sealed with a synthetic coating, helping to prevent cavities. For further information about the benefits of sealants, check out my previous blog, “Sealants: A Simple Way to Prevent Cavities.”
Written by Mark Paulsort
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