Young and Healthy’s Dental Health Program includes four specific areas of operation:
Community-Based Dental Care – Forty-two volunteer dentists are available to provide both routine and acute dental care for children in their offices. Last year, our volunteers treated 368 low-income children, providing services ranging from dental hygiene and screening, to treatment of dental caries, broken teeth, extractions and pulpotomies.
USC Mobile Dental Clinic – For children whose dental health care needs are the most acute, each year, we collaborate with the USC School of Dentistry to provide a week-long Mobile Dental Clinic in our service area. Under the terms of this collaboration, Young & Healthy underwrites all costs of, and provides staffing for, the Clinic. Our volunteer dentists provide pre-screening services to ensure that the most serious cases receive scheduling priority. The Mobile Dental Clinic serves approximately 120 children per year.
Classroom-Based Dental Education – Using our own trained volunteers and dental hygiene students from Pasadena City College, we provide a multi-session dental education program to first grade students in PUSD classrooms. For many of these children, this is the only dental health instruction that they will receive. Recognizing that the value of dental hygiene may not be supported at home, our program is delivered to each class as a series of eight monthly sessions. In addition to providing the students with rich instructional content and tools for dental self-care, the eight-session format offers abundant opportunities for the review and follow-up necessary to reinforce these concepts in children of this age. Last year, Young & Healthy volunteers delivered the dental education program to 900 public school students in forty-five classrooms.
Pre-K Dental Health Initiative – While most of the referrals to Young & Healthy originate with Pasadena public elementary, middle and high schools, an increasing number of the children referred to us for dental care are younger siblings of our current or past clients.
Dentists now understand the direct connection between untreated dental disease in infants and toddlers and damage to, or under-development of, permanent teeth. We have identified the scarcity of treatment resources for these pre-school aged children as a critical need in the community and a gap in our own service delivery capacity. These very young children require the specialized care of a pediatric dentist, (and, frequently, an anesthesiologist). These factors increase the technical difficulties associated with serving this population and a significantly higher cost to provide these services.
Having identified this significant unmet need, we began last year to explore the provision of these services, on a limited basis, to these very young children. As a result of that successful “pilot” program, we have worked with the USC School of Dentistry and other planning partners to expand and “re-tool” the program design. For School Year 2006-07, we have rolled out an enhanced Pre-K Dental Health Initiative that, in addition to the provision of direct treatment for pre-school aged children, includes a significant prevention, screening and educational component targeting prenatal mothers and an educational component for other health care givers.