ADA 2012 kicks off with school-based dental screenings

2010 10 14 14 14 41 155 Ada Show Report

SAN FRANCISCO - The ADA kicked off its annual meeting this week by having150 volunteer dentists, hygienists, and dental students provide 2,000 school children with oral health screenings, education, and treatment as part of the ADA's Give Kids A Smile program.

The three-day Give Kids A Smile program started Monday at the Gordon J. Lau Elementary School in San Francisco's Chinatown, with students first getting an oral screening in a mobile van provided by Colgate.

Bergen James, DDS, a pediatric dentist in San Francisco, said most of the children's teeth are in good condition, with very little evidence of caries.

Dr. Bergen James spent Monday performing oral screenings at an elementary school in San Francisco's Chinatown as part of the ADA's Give Kids A Smile program.Dr. Bergen James spent Monday performing oral screenings at an elementary school in San Francisco's Chinatown as part of the ADA's Give Kids A Smile program.
Dr. Bergen James spent Monday performing oral screenings at an elementary school in San Francisco's Chinatown as part of the ADA's Give Kids A Smile program.

"Of the 75 kids I've seen so far, only one was in a little pain from decay," she told DrBicuspid.com as she screened a procession of young students in the van, perched on one of the city's well-known steep hills outside the school. "I attribute that to the fluoride in San Francisco's water. And the fillings I've seen look good."

She was particularly looking for children who are good candidates to get sealants on their teeth.

Dr. James has been volunteering for years in an annual elementary school screening program coordinated by the San Francisco Dental Society and the city's public health department.

Even children in working-class areas of the city have good oral health, she noted.

"In underprivileged areas with lots of immigrants, I'm always kind of shocked at how good they do look, better than I would have thought," she said.

“I attribute the good overall condition of the children to the fluoride in San Francisco's water.”
— Bergen James, DDS

Dr. James estimated that she encounters only about one in 40 children who has a "really bad mouth" during her annual screenings.

As the children awaited their turn in Dr. James' chair, they watched cartoons on a TV monitor that encouraged them to have good dental health habits and avoid sweets.

Most of the kids said they see a dentist regularly and brush their teeth twice daily. They also said that going to the dentist is "no big deal."

Fifth-grade student Rachel Wu, 10, said she brushes her teeth twice a day and has no cavities. When asked if she's afraid of going to the dentist, she admitted, "Not really -- well, maybe a little."

Nina Jimenez, a Colgate coordinator for the mobile program, estimated that about 700 students would be screened at the school on Monday. The students also receive oral health education about brushing for two minutes and eating healthy snacks.

Colgate, which has been running the mobile van program since 1991, operates nine such mobile units nationwide daily. The company also gives the children dental kits containing a toothbrush, toothpaste, and oral health instructions.

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