Dental cavities are the most prevalent childhood disease in the country and the primary cause of school absenteeism, yet no organized system of preventive oral health care for children exists in Milwaukee. Although more than 50 percent of Milwaukee Public School children are enrolled in or eligible for programs to provide dental care, very few children in Milwaukee have received preventive oral health care that would improve their overall health and school attendance.
Through the Smart Smiles program and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Dental Clinic, roughly 10,000 children in Milwaukee will receive preventative care this year. Serving children within the schools is a winning strategy because children are comfortable there, parents can provide consents easily, and the logistics of transportation for children and parents taking off of work are avoided.
The Seton Dental Clinic's strategy for care includes provision of fluoride treatments to all children; provision of dental sealants to coat healthy teeth and avoid future caries; and provision of dental hygiene prophylaxis and debridement as appropriate. Insured children with a need for restorative dental care are referred to their HMO or insurance provider.
According to oral public health calculations, the likelihood of cavities and the expense of restorative care results in a calculation that these sealants will avoid $3.1 million in restorative care costs for teeth that would have had cavities.
The State of Wisconsin, corporations and private foundations provide funding for the program's operational expenses. The program follows best practices established for school-based dental programs by Wisconsin Seal-A-Smile for clinical and administrative operations as well as Columbia St. Mary's best practices and standards.
Resolve to take better care of your teeth this year! The American Dental Association recommends:
Replacing your toothbrush at least every four months, or whenever the bristles start to fray. Store your toothbrush in open air, standing up.
Brushing at least twice a day for two minutes each time. Brush gently, as vigorous brushing may damage teeth and gums.
Waiting at least 30 minutes after eating to brush your teeth, especially if you eat something highly acidic.
Using a soft-bristled brush that's gentler on your teeth and gums.
Using the right technique! Brush at a 45-degree angle to the gums, moving back and forth in gentle, short strokes.
For additional information about the Smart Smiles program and Seton Dental Clinic, please choose one of the following:
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Dental Clinic
1730 S. 13th St.
Milwaukee, WI 53204
Robyn Kibler, Clinic Manager
Lauren Collart, Smart Smiles Supervisor