Children’s dental care improves in county
Efforts to improve the dental health of children in Washington County are working. I-SMILE coordinator Sheila Temple presented the dental audit overview to the Washington County Board of Health during the board’s monthly meeting on Tuesday.
Temple, a licensed dental hygienist, told the board that the Iowa Legislature passed a law in 2007 that requires students entering kindergarten and ninth grade to present proof of a dental screening before entering those grade levels. She said it is the board of health’s responsibility to make sure that happens and that it’s her job to make sure it gets done.
“We’ve had some significant changes in the last year,” Temple said.
Ninety-one percent of students in the county provided valid certificates this year. That compares with 62 percent in 2012 and 57 percent in 2011.
“How many years have you been doing this?” board member Wendy Miller asked.
Since 2008, Temple said.
“Do you have any data that shows that with the fluoride varnishing that teeth have been better?” Miller asked.
“It’s been amazing,” Temple replied.
Temple said that two years ago a dentist could tell something had changed for children. The dentist asked what was different because the dentist was seeing no decay in children and the children who had decay were being taken care of.
The children the dentist had asked about were the first children who had received a fluoride varnish.
“We’ve been seeing them since they were 3 years old,” Temple said.
She also talked about a new daily tooth-brushing program for licensed day cares, which is being expanded to preschools this year. A description appears in the public health department’s annual report for 2013, which the board received later on in the meeting.
“Through this program, centers are provided with the tools they need to start training on infection control and age-appropriate oral care procedures,” the report states. “We visit these centers every three months to provide new toothbrushes, toothpaste, and to answer any questions they may have.”
Temple said that improving dental care for children is to make sure the children are healthy and that they can learn. She said that American children miss 59 million school days a year due to inadequate dental care.
Public health administrator Danielle Pettit-Majewski told the board that public health nurse Traci Shirkey is leaving to work at Washington County Hospital and Clinics just as flu shot season is beginning. Pettit-Majewski said the department has 1,100 doses of flu vaccine on hand and more than 40 immunization clinics scheduled.
The board approved a motion that Pettit-Majewski could contract with an adequate number of registered nurses to staff the clinics. She said immunizations need to be done by registered nurses who have experience with immunizations.
Environmental Health director Jennine Wolf began her report by updating the board on the Richmond and Rubio sewer projects. She said she is pleased with the progress being made, including the fact that several Rubio residents are working together to share a system.
Supervisor Jack Seward Jr. was present at the meeting. He said the Iowa Department of Natural Resources is revising the administrative order to Washington County to reflect the change from using community-based sewer systems to having each individual property owner comply with state regulations.
Former supervisor Ron Bennett said Richmond and Rubio are making “great progress.” Bennett is a member of the board of health.
Wolf said she is preparing a presentation on what the Environmental Health Department does for board members and the county supervisors. She said the presentation would take place on Oct. 7, beginning at 9 a.m.