School Board sees need for service, but worries about children’s safety
At face value, providing dental cleanings and screenings for children in need brings smiles to everyone.
It’s not that easy, however, said one member of the Cedar Grove-Belgium School Board who happens to work in dentistry.
Dr. Dan Bruhn, a dentist, expressed concerns at a special board meeting last month about the nonprofit organization Smiles 4 Life seeking to serve the district’s children whose families can’t afford dental care.
Since Smiles 4 Life doesn’t send licensed dentists to schools, Bruhn worried about students receiving sealants. When placed appropriately, he said, sealants are highly effective. But they can be dangerous if they are placed on a decaying tooth.
“My hygienists are not allowed to put sealants on teeth without a prescription from a dentist,” he said.
Bruhn’s other concern is the organization making referrals for further care only when “medically necessary.” He said he hopes referrals would be made before infections are found.
“I hope they’d be judicious on that,” Bruhn said.
Student patients would be identified through Medicaid and BadgerCare.
“I do agree that there’s a population of kids and adults under-served in the area,” Bruhn said.
He said the number one reason dentists don’t take BadgerCare patients is because they often don’t show up for appointments. Bruhn said it takes three or four appointments to get someone to show up once.
“In school, at least you know the kids are going to show up,” he said.
Bruhn said he has no problems with the organization educating children on oral hygiene, and other board members agreed.
“I like the preventative aspect,” Lori Gruell said.
Supt. Jean Courneene said she would bring questions of sealants and medical referrals to Smiles 4 Life and put the item on the March meeting agenda.
“I think it has value,” she said. “We have children in need.”
For more information, go to http://www.smiles4lifedental.org.