KinderCampers get tooth checkup by Coconino Health District
WILLIAMS, Ariz. - According to the Arizona Dental Association, 52 percent of Arizona kindergarteners have a history of tooth decay as compared to the national average of 36 percent. Approximately 28 percent of Arizona's kindergarten and third grade children have untreated tooth decay as compared to the national average of 22 percent.
Coconino County Public Health Services District (CCPHSD) employees Jenny Garcia and Katie Bassett are hoping to change those statistics.
Garcia and Bassett visited the Williams Elementary-Middle School KinderCamp June 16 to screen the incoming kindergartners for tooth decay and other tooth problems.
"We do a little education like a little story time, talking about brushing and flossing and the importance of that and going to the dentist and eating healthy," Garcia said. "Then we check their teeth and with the parent's consent we do fluoride varnish."
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends fluoride every three to six months once teeth begin to emerge in children. Fluoridated toothpaste is recommended for children starting at tooth eruption. Over the counter fluoride rinse is not recommended for children younger than six because of the risk of swallowing higher than recommended levels of fluoride.
The children at the Williams KinderCamp come in one at a time to meet Garcia and Bassett. Garcia hands the child a stuffed monkey and dental mirror when they come in.
"You are going to hold Mr. Chimp," Garcia tells her first patient. "Put the mirror in his mouth and I'm going to shine the light. Do you see healthy teeth or do you see fillings or cavities?"
Once the child checks out Mr. Chimp, Garcia asked the young patient if she can check her teeth.
"I'm going to look in your mouth to see if you have any little sugar bugs," she said. "Are you brushing your teeth two times a day? Or are you forgetting sometimes. Now that its summer I'm sure you are pretty busy."
Garcia said the exams are just preliminary. She said they usually find many children who have never been to a dentist. These children usually have many cavities. She said they also find children missing many teeth because of early childhood carries.
"We used to call it baby bottle mouth," Garcia said. "These children are usually missing their front teeth. This happens because the child was put to bed with a bottle. Usually it had juice or milk in it."
Garcia said she and Basset visit many early childhood programs throughout Coconino County. She said CCPHSD also works with the First Things First program to educate parents about dental care.
"Sometimes I sit in the WIC (Women, Infant and Children's program) offices," Garcia said. "They come in and get vouchers for food. With Katie's program we also check prenatal care so we can educate the mothers before they even put the baby to bed."
While Garcia screens the children at KinderCamp, Basset records what Garcia finds on an informational sheet for parents.
"This lets them know what we found," Garcia said. "If they don't have a dentist, the back of the form gives them places to go and the (AHCCCS) Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System number if they want to get in touch with them."
KinderCamp is an early intervention pre-school program for incoming kindergarteners. It is a targeted program with a goal of encouraging successful transitions into kindergarten for children and families. It provides opportunities for children to learn in rich, stable, growth-producing learning environments.
This is the fourth year Williams Unified School District offered KinderCamp. Classes began June 6 and ended June 30.
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