WHAT: More than 500 second-graders from Edgewood Independent School District will take an oral health care field trip to the UT Health Science Center San Antonio. They will receive free dental exams, fluoride treatments, molar sealants and instruction on how to care for their teeth. Because nearly one-third of young Edgewood students have early childhood caries (aggressive cavities), this could be their lucky day.
The event will be an educational opportunity all-around, as dental and dental hygiene students, under the supervision of School of Dentistry faculty members, will perform the preventive oral health services as part of their clinical training.
WHO: Media will be able to interview Edgewood second-graders, a parent, dental students, dental hygiene students, Suman Challa, D.D.S., assistant professor of community dentistry, and Gary Guest, D.D.S., associate dean for patient care in the School of Dentistry, who leads this project.
WHEN: 9 to 11 a.m. Friday, Feb. 13
WHERE: UT Health Science Center San Antonio School of Dentistry, 7703 Floyd Curl, near the intersection with Medical Drive. Enter through the main gate and the guard will direct you to parking by the School of Dentistry.
HOW: Children will arrive by the busload with chaperones and their school nurse. They will receive the dental screenings and preventive treatments, as well as educational coloring books and dental supplies to take home. Parents will receive a full report on their child’s dental health from the school nurse.
WHY: Although this will be a fun, upbeat event, it has a serious purpose, because this is the first time many of these children will be seen by a dentist.
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, early childhood caries (ECC), or cavities in young children, is the most common chronic early childhood disease in the United States. It is five times more common than asthma. ECC is caused by bacteria in the saliva. The infectious disease is often transmitted to young children by their caregivers or by being put to bed with a bottle.
The aggressive disease can develop quickly, attacking the tooth enamel. If it is not treated, it can infect the inside of the tooth making it necessary to extract the tooth or even cause the child to be hospitalized due to the infection.
The School of Dentistry has noted that about one-third of young children in the Edgewood ISD have ECC.
The field trips, one Feb. 13 and another Feb. 20, are being held in conjunction with the American Dental Association’s National Children’s Dental Health Month, which includes Give Kids a Smile, an annual event in which dental professionals offer free screenings to underprivileged children in their communities.
The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, one of the country’s leading health sciences universities, ranks in the top 13 percent of academic institutions receiving National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding. The university’s schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have produced more than 31,000 graduates. The $787.7 million operating budget supports eight campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. For more information on the many ways “We make lives better®,” visit www.uthscsa.edu.