Lack of dental care keeping kids out of school

'It’ clear they have dental needs,' lack of dental care keeping kids out of school (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) Granger Elementary School Principal Amber Clayton stayed long after school had ended Thursday as some of her students received help they desperately needed.

“It’s very clear that they have dental needs,” Clayton said.

Some students actually end up missing class because of oral infections or tooth pain that come after years of not visiting a dentist’s office – most because their families don’t have dental insurance.

Intermountain Healthcare and several community health partners brought in a team of dentists from the Utah Department of Health and the Roseman University College of Dental Medicine who saw patients at Granger Elementary for four hours Thursday.

“It’s really hard to know how many kids have access to dental care outside of school, but we can judge by the success of the clinics that there’s great need with our families,” Clayton said.

The dentists saw dozens of patients, which included kids and their parents.

The Intermountain Dental Demonstration Project is funded by Intermountain Healthcare and reached nearly 1,000 patients in 2015. According to project data, 67 percent of the patients treated in 2015 were receiving oral health education for the first time.

“They’re very appreciative,” Dr. Dean Troili said.

He works for the Utah Department of Health and supervises the dental students who are providing treatment at the clinics. He said many of the patients have serious dental problems that affect their everyday lives.

“Some of those have progressed to painful and infected teeth which affects the children’s ability to be a good student at school,” Troili said.

The procedures at Thursday’s clinic ranged from exams to cleaning and other minor procedures. If further work is needed, the dentists made a referral and worked with the social workers to continue treatment.

Project administrators say they have funding through the end of the year and hope to continue to receive funding from community partners to provide the dental treatment.


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