OHSU'S Dental School Offers Children Free Protection Against Cavities

01/27/00    Portland, Ore.

OHSU's School of Dentistry participates in free statewide sealant campaign

One of the best weapons against cavities is a plastic coating put on the top of children's permanent back teeth when they first come in. Unfortunately, not all children have access to the dental care needed to provide this treatment.

To help children fight this highly preventable health risk, Oregon Health Sciences University's School of Dentistry, along with several other dental providers throughout the state, will provide free sealants during the "Keep Cavities Out" campaign next month. Children can receive free sealants at OHSU's School of Dentistry on Saturday, Feb. 5, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Other activities at the event will include teaching sessions on how to keep children's teeth healthy and how different foods can impact their mouth's health.

Sealants literally seal the nooks and crannies on top of the new permanent teeth with a plastic coating to prevent bacteria from developing into cavities. The coating can last at least five years and should provide 100 percent protection on the biting, or top, surface of the back teeth if checked by a dental care provider on an annual basis.

"Sealants are an inexpensive, fast, painless way to prevent cavities," said Sharon Turner, D.D.S., J.D., dean of OHSU's School of Dentistry and co-chairwoman of the "Keep Cavities Out" campaign. "Why take the risk of having a filling later when sealants are so easy and effective now?"

A child's teeth are most at risk for dental decay after their back teeth or six-year molars have grown in. "If we can prevent someone from getting cavities when they're young, their teeth will have a significantly better chance of staying free of decay as their teeth grow stronger and mature with age," said George Riviere, D.D.S., Ph.D., chairman of OHSU's pediatric dentistry program.

The "Keep Cavities Out" campaign is a collaboration that includes the Oregon Dental Association, its local societies and the dental school. In recognition of February being National Children's Dental Health Month, dental care volunteers in more than 15 cities around the state of Oregon will offer free sealant events. For more information about those sites, you can call the "Keep Cavities Out" campaign at 503-223-1244.

At OHSU's Sealant Day on Feb. 5, about 75 dental care providers will offer children between the ages of seven and nine free, limited dental exams. If the children's six-year molars do not have existing decay and have grown in completely, they will receive free sealants. Children need to be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. The exam results and sealant information will be available for parents or guardians to take with them for future dental care.

To make an appointment or for more information, parents can call OHSU's School of Dentistry at 503-494-1600.