An easy trip to the dentistOn Thursday, Dec. 20, Makenzie Kellaher had a dental appointment, but she didn’t have to leave Newport Elementary School. Her dentist was in the building.
By: Judy Spooner, South Washington County Bulletin
On Thursday, Dec. 20, Makenzie Kellaher had a dental appointment, but she didn’t have to leave Newport Elementary School. Her dentist was in the building.
Last fall, Michael Moore, Newport principal, got approval from the District 833 School Board to accept a grant from Delta Dental Services to offer free dental screening to the students through Children’s Dental Services.
Dental hygienists who set up a dental chair in the school did screenings.
In December, Dr. Phong Do came to the school for appointments with 11 students to fill teeth and do one extraction for students whose parents have dental insurance.
Moore was inspired to push for the program early in the 2007-2008 school year, when a child came to school late and Moore said she should have some breakfast before going to class. He suggested a bagel.
She told him she couldn’t eat it because her teeth would hurt. She had French toast sticks, instead.
The experience led him to consider the possibility that some of the students needed to see a dentist.
Tammy John, pediatric nurse practitioner, covers Liberty Ridge, Royal Oaks and Newport elementary schools for the district. While at a Washington County nurses meeting, she heard about dental services being offered in schools and efforts to secure a grant for Newport went into motion.
“I didn’t want to have another incident like that again,” Moore said. “They can’t focus in class.”
John said parents were receptive to the proposal and were told of the screening program during parent conferences.
“Parents don’t have to take time out from work,” John said. “It’s a factor in this economy.”
On the day when kids are ready to be seen by a dentist, equipment is delivered to the school.
A chair and lights can be set up in a space as small as 10 feet-by-10 feet as long as there is access to running water, according to Jenny Hegge, registered dental assistant.
A mini-autoclave sterilizes instruments in three-and-a-half minutes, she said.
The equipment includes an X-ray processor and machine to mix material for fillings.
Children are distracted from paying attention in school if they have toothaches, but their confidence returns after the dental work, Hegge said.
“Having a toothache is the worst feeling in the world,” Hegge said.
Newport’s dental program will be evaluated at the end of the school year with consideration of expanding it to other district schools, Moore said.