Marin County has acquired a $861,000 grant from the state to proceed to handle oral well being disparities.
The grant is the second consecutive five-year award the county has acquired. The earlier grant, which expired in June, was additionally for $861,000.
“Speaking about dental illness, it’s important that we additionally focus on oral well being fairness, as dental illness disproportionately impacts lower-income kids and kids of colour,” mentioned Danika Ng, program coordinator for the Marin Oral Well being Program, instructed the Board of Supervisors at a gathering final week.
Knowledge collected by the state’s Division of Training exhibits that in the course of the 2021-2022 faculty yr, Marin faculties with larger percentages of scholars receiving free or diminished priced meals correlated with larger charges of untreated dental decay.
The county’s efforts to advertise oral well being fairness have been made harder by the COVID-19 pandemic, which triggered most dental places of work to shut for a time and made many sufferers extra reluctant than regular to go to a dentist when places of work reopened.
In line with knowledge collected by the state, annual dental visits by Medi-Cal-insured kids ages 3 to five dropped from 76% to 59% from 2019 to 2020, Ng mentioned.
Kindergarten oral well being evaluation charges at faculties all through the county dropped from 60% within the 2019-2020 faculty yr to 44% in 2020-2021, Ng mentioned. Underneath a state regulation that took impact in 2007, each youngster is meant to have a dental examination earlier than beginning kindergarten.
“Due to COVID we couldn’t do a lot dentistry in 2020,” mentioned Dr. Connie Kadera, dental director for Marin Group Clinics (MCC).
The county’s largest federally certified well being heart, MCC has about 35,000 sufferers, 18,000 of whom additionally obtain their dental care by means of the group. MCC has 30 dental chairs, 9 of that are for youngsters.
Kadera mentioned COVID-19 triggered MCC to cease seeing dental sufferers for a couple of months, apart from emergencies. After that, dental places of work reopened slowly in phases. Now MCC is treating sufferers who haven’t been to a dentist in two or three years, Kadera mentioned.
“They want a variety of procedures,” she mentioned.
There aren’t sufficient to maintain up with the demand for appointments, and MCC plans so as to add 4 dental chairs maybe by the tip of this yr. Adults who don’t require emergency care might need to attend a number of months for an appointment. The wait time for youngsters is a couple of week.
MCC is partnering with the county to implement the Marin Oral Well being Program, Kadera mentioned. The county is utilizing a number of the grant cash to pay for dental suppliers to go to faculties to do dental screenings. Kadera mentioned that earlier than COVID-19 arrived in Marin, MCC workers screened all the scholars at San Pedro Elementary College.
“We have been capable of refer these sufferers who have been in ache or had decay to our clinics,” Kadera mentioned.
Ng cited state and nationwide knowledge that present that lower-income kids are twice as prone to expertise dental illness in comparison with their counterparts and that kids of colour in California undergo dental issues at larger charges.
Nationwide knowledge present that faculty absenteeism brought on by dental illness is thrice extra seemingly in kids with poor oral well being, which might result in poorer educational efficiency.
The Marin Oral Well being Program can also be working with native physicians to encourage their sufferers to get common dental checkups and searching for to coach the general public by means of faculty festivals, social media and collaborations with neighborhood organizations reminiscent of Canal Alliance.
“There’s a misapprehension that solely sweets trigger decay, however it’s a bacterial an infection,” Kadera mentioned. “We are able to transmit it to different folks.”
Michelle Fadelli, communications supervisor of First 5 Marin, urged supervisors to supply funding for dental screenings at Marin preschools.
“Whereas it’s great to have the Ok-12 focus, we actually assume there’s a must fund for early childhood training so kids can arrive in kindergarten with good oral well being,” Fadelli mentioned.