CLIFTON — October is National Dental Hygiene Month and the students in Greenlee and Graham counties are getting some help when it comes to dental care.
Delta Dental Foundation of Arizona awarded Tooth B.U.D.D.S. a $25,000 grant to continue providing oral care and education to the students of Greenlee and Graham counties.
“One of the best parts about receiving this oral health grant from Delta Dental of Arizona has been to see the massive growth we have been able to accomplish in one short year,” said MiQuel McRae, founder and executive director of Tooth B.U.D.D.S. “We are so excited to have been given another opportunity to bring even more smiles into underserved communities throughout eastern Arizona. We are even hoping to expand into Gila County in 2020.”
The lack of dental providers in Greenlee County has led the region to have the lowest percentage of children who regularly receive dental checkups in Arizona. Because of this, some dental conditions have advanced well past what a regular cleaning can address. Program recipients with additional dental needs will be referred to local dental providers who have partnered with Tooth B.U.D.D.S.
In one school visit, these children can receive an exam, X-rays, professional dental cleanings, sealants, fluoride varnish, as well as Silver Diamine fluoride which stops active decay once it has started. To encourage the students to carry on these practices at home, Tooth B.U.D.D.S. will go into each individual classroom to teach students about oral hygiene and provide each child with a water bottle and a Delta Dental Smile Bag that includes a toothbrush, toothpaste and floss.
“Tooth B.U.D.D.S is delivering the oral health-care treatments these children need, no matter what the geographical barriers might be,” said Allan Allford, chief executive officer at Delta Dental of Arizona. “We are huge supporters of what this organization is doing for underserved rural communities around the state, and we look forward to seeing the results of their work reflected in the smiles of the children they serve.”
The Delta Dental Foundation grant is the second in the last two months for Tooth B.U.D.D.S.; in September, the organization received $4,690 from Arizona Community Foundation of the Gila Valley.
B.U.D.D.S. stands for Bringing Understanding of Dental Disease to Schools. Its primary goal is to improve the oral health and overall health of the children in these counties
In addition to Tooth B.U.D.D.S., the Arizona Department of Health Services has been offering the Cavity Free AZ Sealant program to schools since 1987.
“School-based dental sealant delivery programs provide sealants to children unlikely to receive them otherwise,” the ADHS wrote. “In 2015, 75 percent of Arizona third-graders needed dental sealants.
Sealants prevent tooth decay and stop cavities from growing. In 2015, 60 percent of Arizona third-graders were affected by tooth decay; 30 percent had pain, dental infection or severely decayed teeth in need of urgent treatment.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 20 percent of children in the United States ages 5-11 have at least one decayed tooth left untreated.
MouthHealthy.org has some tips in its Halloween Survival Guide to choose the best holiday candies to help reduce dental issues. For example, chocolate cleans the easiest, while sour or hard candies are the worst due to acidity and the possibility of breaking teeth.