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Sealant grant

student with patient

Twice as many children in the Dallas Independent School District will receive free dental sealants this year thanks to a grant HSC-Baylor College of Dentistry received from Oral Health America and Trident.

The "Smiles Across America" program has provided HSC-BCD $25,000 toward the college's Dallas County Sealant Initiative, now in its 10th year.

Throughout the school year, Dr. Stephen Crane, assistant professor of public health sciences, takes the Seal Mobile to schools participating in the initiative. At these schools, fourth-year dental students place sealants on second-graders' permanent molars and assess their oral health needs. Many of these children have never seen a dentist.

The Smiles Across America grant enabled the Seal Mobile to double its visits from two to four days a week, which ultimately will double the number of children reached.

The grant news was twice as sweet because it came as a surprise.

"It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime things," says Dr. Daniel Jones, professor and chair of public health sciences, about the phone call he received out of the blue. OHA explained its Smiles Across America program, which is supported by Trident, then asked if the college was interested. Jones immediately suggested the sealant program, where the grant would have the biggest impact.

The Smiles Across America program improves dental care access for elementary school children who qualify for the USDA free or reduced-price school lunch program. It provides resources and technical assistance for school oral health services, particularly those that provide dental sealants.                     

group pictureIn this instance, OHA is partnering public schools and community-based providers, particularly those focused on prevention. OHA members suggested HSC-BCD, based on their experience working with the college 15 years ago for its National Spit Tobacco Education Program.

After Jones got the call from OHA, he and other college officials approached DISD, asking for more schools to visit during the 2009-2010 school year. When classes began this fall, the program had increased its school list from 24 to 46 and proceeded with its four-day approach.

Jones says the grant already has helped, doubling the number of children seen during the fall 2009 semester compared to one year ago.

"It's been a rousing success," Jones says. "OHA is pleased with it, and we're on track to reach or surpass our goal by year's end.

"Much of the success is thanks to Dr. Crane. He is the sealant program," Jones says emphatically. "It's his passion. He works tremendously hard."

Pictured above:

(L to R) Dr. Stephen Crane; Jennifer Hull, representative with Cadbury/Trident; Dr. K. Vendrell Rankin; Dr. Dan Jones; Beth Truett, president and CEO of Oral Health America; Paul Hoffman, executive director of Community Dental Care