Historically, February is reserved for heartfelt thoughts and lots of sweet treats for our kiddos but February is also nationally recognized as Dental Health Month and has major significance for our youngsters who lack access to quality dental care.
Communities In Schools of Houston is dedicated to giving kids a reason to smile through its dental initiative-Project MOVE (Mobile Operations Vehicle for Everybody) Dental. This February has been dedicated to “Give Kids a Smile,” an annual event hosted by CIS’ dental partner University of Texas School of Dentistry along with the American Dental Association-Greater Houston Chapter.
Through this partnership, 140 students from Berry and Tijerina Elementary Schools, in addition to Spring Forest Middle School, were the beneficiaries of free preventive and restorative treatment that they might not otherwise receive. Such services remind us that oral health has a major impact on our overall health and affect a child’s education.
Oral health is an essential part of our daily lives. It affects our ability to speak, smile, taste, chew and convey feelings. Most importantly, when oral health is compromised by tooth decay, children are absent from school, have difficulty concentrating in the classroom, and may even skip meals as a result of the pain. It is important to note that tooth decay, while common and preventable, has devastating consequences for lower-income children who suffer because they lack access and/or the ability to pay for dental care.
Nationally, 51 million hours of school time is lost and 164 million work hours are missed due to untreated dental decay. CIS of Houston addresses this overwhelming issue through collaboration and coordination of dental care in various communities throughout Houston. CIS established Project MOVE Dental to increase access to quality dental care by bringing much needed dental treatment to students on their school campuses so that there is less time out of school; even parents don’t have to miss work as a result of this service delivery model. This model, in collaboration with UT School of Dentistry, brings the state of the art Ronald McDonald House Dental Van to CIS elementary campuses each school year.
Since its inception, Project MOVE Dental has served more than 12,000 children and coordinated more than $1,000,000 worth of dental treatment to uninsured children who are more likely to be at-risk to chronic tooth decay.