This June we celebrate, “Oral Health Month”. Why is oral health important? You can’t have good general health without having good oral health. Our teeth affect how we eat, speak, show emotions, and interact with others. Also, unhealthy teeth may interfere with job opportunities and performance. Often, we fail to realize that poor oral health can also contribute to low self-esteem, poor school performance and complications with chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular problems, low birth weight, and gum disease.
Jennifer Frusetta, Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH) and San Benito County (SBC) Oral Health Program Manager has been increasing oral health awareness among the residents of San Benito County to decrease tooth decay rates and improve oral health outcomes. According to Center for Disease Control and Prevention, among adults aged 20 or over, about 90% have had at least one cavity. Over 52% of children between the ages of 6 to 8 had have a cavity in their baby teeth. Jennifer Frusetta, RDH launched a pilot toothbrush program in 2021 at R.O. Hardin Elementary School with two kindergarten classes, Mrs. Casillas, and Mrs. Branon. The toothbrush program was initiated to ensure that children were brushing their teeth at least once per day. The pilot program started in September of 2021 and just ended this May. Mrs. Casillas’ students went from not brushing their teeth to then brushing at least four times a week at school. Jennifer conducted a screening at the end of the pilot program and the results showed that that there was less visible plaque, no new visible inflammation, and no new cavities among the students. This was a great success, and the toothbrush program is planned to expand to other elementary schools within the next few months. Jennifer Frusetta stated that she is “up for the challenge and excited to work with all the children.”
The SBC Oral Health Program provides oral health education at schools for all grade levels, a newly developed dental provider list (private and Medi-Cal), and free fluoride varnish. There are things that parents/guardians can do to reduce decay among their children: Use interactive apps when brushing, brush alongside the child, praise your child and schedule dental check ups every 6 months. It is important to remember to establish good dental habits from an early age. Tooth decay is 100% preventable.
In 2019, the SBC Oral Health Program conducted a survey to 60 participants over the age of 18. All participants exhibited a cavity and/or untreated tooth decay. 47% of participants had missing teeth and 40% stated that they had pain. Some recommendations to improve oral hygiene include brushing twice a day for two minutes, flossing once a day, using fluoridated toothpaste, and drinking water to avoid dry mouth.
Any individual can get a free dental screening and oral health referral on Tuesdays with an appointment at Public Health Services. To schedule an appointment please contact Public Health Services at (831) 637-5367. The office is located at 351 Tres Piños Rd Suite 202A. For further information, please contact Jennifer Frusetta, RDH.
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Oral Health Surveillance Report: Trends in Dental Caries and Sealants, Tooth Retention, and Edentulism, United States, 1999–2004 to 2011–2016. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Dept of Health and Human Services; 2019. https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/publications/OHSR-2019-index.html
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vital signs: dental sealant use and untreated tooth decay among US school-aged children. MMWR. 2016;65(41):1141-1145.
3. HERA, J. I. R. I. (n.d.). TipsOralHealth2.jpg. photograph.
4.Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2021, October 28). Oral Health: A window to your overall health. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved May 25, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/dental/art-20047475#:~:text=Normally%20the%20body's%20natural%20defenses,tooth%20decay%20and%20gum%20disease. Oral Health and School
5.Readiness. Oral Health and School Readiness | Smile California. (n.d.). Retrieved May 25, 2022, from https://smilecalifornia.org/school-readiness/