Board Recognizes February as Children’s Dental Health Month

LOS ANGELES (Jan. 10, 2017) – As part of an effort to raise awareness about the importance of oral health throughout L.A. Unified, the Board of Education unanimously approved a resolution today recognizing February as Dental Health Month.

The resolution notes that tooth decay is the most common chronic disease among children, although it is largely preventable. It cites a 2009 study from the Children’s Dental Health Project, which found that students in the Los Angeles Unified School District with untreated dental disease miss an additional two days of school each year.

“A child with a toothache can’t concentrate, has trouble learning, or is absent from school,” said Board Vice President Dr. George J. McKenna III, who sponsored the resolution. “From my experience as a teacher and a principal, I know that too many of our students suffer from dental problems that can be prevented. Better dental health is certainly linked to better academic performance.”

To promote dental care for students, the resolution highlights enforcement of a state mandate requiring kindergarten and first grade students to provide proof of an oral check-up within the past year. The data must be submitted to the Los Angeles County Office of Education.

In addition, many students from low-income families are eligible for the state Denti-Cal benefits. The emphasis of that coverage, according to the resolution, should shift to preventative care.

“Dental disease is rampant in our communities and is completely preventable,” says Maryjane Puffer, executive director of the nonprofit L.A. Trust for Children’s Health, which works with the District to provide health care for students and families.

“Together with district Nursing Services, dedicated dental providers and our Oral Health Advisory Board, The L.A. Trust aims to support the District in achieving the 100 percent kindergarten mandate for oral health screening, routine preventive assessments and improved access to dental care for all L.A. Unified students. It’s a heavy lift, but I am confident that together we can do this.” 

As a part of Dental Health Month, The L.A. Trust has announced the second annual Tooth Fairy Convention, which will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 11, at Exposition Park. At the event, parents, children and the community will learn about the importance of oral health. Community partners, sponsors, oral healthcare providers and advocates will offer resources, free oral screenings and dental referrals.

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Contact: Shannon Haber (213) 241-6766