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Local dental care gets a boost

Tooth decay is now the leading health problem for California’s children, according to a recent survey conducted by the Dental Health Foundation, and the mouths of Truckee’s youngsters are no exception.

But since Feb. 1, a new grant to Placer and Nevada counties is helping health officials increase education and prevention, with the hope of eliminating some of the more than 1,000 children’s dental decay cases they see each year.

“We are seeing children have root canals at age 3, or going under anesthetics to have all their teeth removed,” said Sarah Coolidge, program manager at the Kings Beach Family Resource Center. “Until [our clients] have the education, there really isn’t any preventative care going on.”



Delta Dental of California has awarded a $58,912 grant to be split between Placer and Nevada counties that will address the needs of children ages birth through 18, and will allow for increased dental screening for students in the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District.

The two-year grant, which will be filtered through the Placer County Community Clinic in Kings Beach, will increase funding for the dentist and dental assistant at the clinic, and provide transportation for clinic patients, according to Julie Day, outreach program analyst for Delta Dental of California.



“It’s an exciting opportunity because the funding that we have received (from the county) in the last past has only helped children ages 0 to 5,” said Ruth Hall, school readiness coordinator. “It has been very frustrating to be serving families with young children and not being able to include their older children in dental treatment.”

From February through June of last year, the Dental Health Foundation, a California group that works through community partnerships to promote oral health, gave dental screenings to more than 21,000 kindergarten through third graders in California, and found that three out of four low-income elementary students were suffering from some form of tooth decay.

“[Many of our clients] don’t go to the dentist every six months for a checkup ” they go with something hurts, they might brush, but not regularly or correctly, perhaps without fluoride, and without dental floss,” Coolidge said.

For infants, the most common causes of tooth decay are dental caries that can be brought on by frequent bottle and breast feedings, according to pediatric dentist Jade Miller of Growing Smiles in Reno.

“When a child falls asleep, they don’t swallow as much and their saliva is reduced, so sitting in their mouth for many hours is this warm milk or juice, and that is a high-risk environment for cavities,” Miller said. “It is recommended to wean child by 1 year old, introduce a toothbrush without toothpaste at 1 year, and begin seeing a dentist at that time.”


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