PROGRAM PROFILE: Maria Seymour Brooker Memorial School Based Preventive Dental Program
“Let’s count your teeth!” This is how it all began 10 years ago. The Foundation for Community Health commissioned a team of public health professionals from the Harvard School of Dental Medicine to conduct oral screenings on 319 third graders enrolled in six schools. The purpose of the screenings was to determine the existence of decay and quantify the need for oral health care services in the Foundation’s catchment area.
The results of the screening confirmed the foundation’s hunch that oral health care was an area of need. The Foundation asked Brooker Memorial in 2007 to expand their pediatric dental practice to school sites in the Region One school district.
With funding from the Foundation for Community Health in 2007, Brooker introduced a school based preventive dental program in all of Region One’s K-8 schools. The goal was to decrease the incidence of tooth decay among school students. Since then, the dental hygienists from Brooker Dental have conducted more than 3,700 visits, performing cleanings, oral assessments, fluoride applications and the application of sealants when indicated. Students who participate are not required to pay a fee for the care provided. Insurance plans are billed for the care provided whenever possible. Children who need additional treatment by a dentist are referred to their community dentist or to the dentists at Brooker Dental’s location in Torrington.
The school dental program, which continues to be funded by the Foundation for Community Health, also includes an educational presentation and goody bags with toothbrushes, floss and toothpaste for every student in every school.
In 2012, a dentist enrolled in Harvard’s School of Public Health conducted a thorough study that examined the current oral health status of the same students who were screened in 2006. The study found a significant improvement in the oral health of the students who have participated in the Brooker school dental program during their elementary school years. See Table below. For more information about Brooker Dental’s programs call 860-489-1328 or visit www.brookermemorial.org.