$5,000 grant awarded to school-based health dental program

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. - "Healthy Smiles, Happy Friends", an oral health program of Bassett’s School-Based Health Centers, has been awarded a $5,000 grant from the New York State Dental Foundation.

The funding, part of the Dental Foundation’s Give Kids a Smile Award program, will be used to pilot a new initiative aimed at identifying children at risk for cavities at an earlier age. Those determined to be at risk could receive an application of fluoride varnish to control or prevent cavities. The program will be piloted in the school-based health centers with an eye toward replicating it across the Bassett Healthcare Network.

"We believe that if we can identify children at risk for cavities at an earlier age, we can prevent or control the development of cavities later on by applying a fluoride varnish to their teeth," notes Dr. Chris Kjolhede, pediatrician and director of Bassett’s School-Based Health Program. "Of course, that reaps all sorts of rewards because a child’s oral health is so closely tied to their overall health."

Bassett’s dental program reaches close to 2000 children in 15 school districts. The Healthy Smiles, Happy Friends Oral Health (HSHF) program was developed in 2001 to address the neediest children with dental cavities and connect them to a dentist to receive care. HSHF provides students with cleanings, fluoride treatments and placement of dental sealant in the school setting. Nutrition counseling, tobacco cessation, classroom education and health fairs are also a part of the program.

The New York State Dental Foundation’s Give Kids a Smile Award recognizes a community health center or service program which seeks to build, expand or enhance education, access and/or capacity with respect to oral health care for children. The Foundation was established in 1980 to foster a statewide approach to the advancement of the art and science of dentistry and dental education as well as to improve the quality of dental care.

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