Letter to the editor: Help sought to do more for teeth

Help sought to do more for teeth

I enjoyed reading Makayla McGeeney's fine article about primary care doctors and nurses promoting oral health by applying Fluoride Varnish. This is yet another program initiated and sponsored by the Bennington Oral Health Coalition, an organization of volunteers working to improve public health.

The situation is as follows. Fluoride is good for teeth. Bennington's community water is not fluoridated. Bennington's citizens have some of the worst dental problems in the entire state. Children's teeth need attention when they first erupt. Most local dentists don't see children until the child reaches age 3. Our local primary care physicians and pediatricians could fill the gap between the first tooth and age 3. If they apply Fluoride Varnish to these younger kids then the amount of childhood tooth decay might be reduced. We hope that the doctors can establish a Fluoride Varnish program in their offices.

This is not the only accomplishment of the BOHC. Over the last year we have held three community-wide forums to consider tactics to improve oral health. We worked with doctors and nurses to provide better education to pregnant women. We developed educational programs for schools and so far have presented in over 50 classrooms. We helped to start classroom toothbrushing programs at Bennington Elementary School. We sponsored classroom essay contests about the importance of teeth, with winners choosing a book from the Bennington Bookstore. We have given out thousands of Dental Goody Bags (toothbrush, floss, and toothpaste). We screened 520 kids at MAUMS for tooth decay (we found a lot of it). We reestablished the long-unused dental chair at MAUMS and arranged to staff it with a dental hygienist and a supervising dentist. We have worked with the Select Board to establish the Oral Health Commission and with the SVSU Administration to look for a Tooth Tutor.

We are proud of our accomplishments but we are stretched thin. If you can help us financially or can volunteer, please call 447-3700. You could get more information about us on our Facebook page Bennington Oral Health.

— G. Richard Dundas, MD Bennington


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