Feb. 25, 2014
By Tara Cavanaugh
When it comes to oral health, starting good habits early in life is important. That’s why the AAPS Preschool and Family Center helps its students and families access oral health care.
Volunteer hygienists and dentists provide fluoride treatments twice yearly at the center, and Michigan Dental Outreach’s Mobile Dentists visit the school to provide x-rays and cleaning services once per year. The mobile dentists made their most recent visit to the preschool on Feb. 10.
“A lot of people don’t have access to care, or they don’t know who to go see or where to go, so it’s a lot easier for us to come to them,” said Allison Kastle, a hygienist with Mobile Dentists. “If we get to the kids younger, we can help them and their parents build build better habits.”
Mobile Dentists bills Medicaid or private insurance. “Most of the students who are uninsured qualify for a grant, so we see them once a year at no cost to the parents,” Kastle said.
Mobile Dentists provides copies of dental records to the parents and the school, and parents are told how to access more oral health services if their child needs further care.
“For our children who are from low-income families, Medicaid only pays for tooth extraction, so by that point it’s the last resort,” said Jo Ann Catalfio, a family and community resource specialist at the preschool.
“A lot of parents think that kids’ teeth are just baby teeth. We’re trying to educate parents: those teeth aren’t just baby teeth. They’re holding places for your permanent teeth, which will help you in the long run.”
Preschool staff also help parents find access to oral health care if their child needs more services. Catalfio, nurse Nancy Polmear-Swendris and family and community resource specialist Evelyn Tingle make sure parents have followed up with needed care, such as if a child has a cavity that needs to be filled. “If they haven’t, we find out what the barriers are,” Catalfio said, “and then we will find a provider so the families have the care that they need.”