The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

Outreach program teaches dental health


November 17, 2017

Forrest Hershberger

Kendra Lauruhn, left, Public Health Registered Dental Hygienist, examines Alliyah Hernandez' teeth while Cooper Grove waits his turn. Lauruhn visited Central Elementary School in Sidney recently as part of the Panhandle Public Health District's dental outreach program. Through the program, age appropriate dental education is provided to elementary students. This is the first year the program has visited Sidney schools, she said.

People are often referred to as having an infectious smile, or for their "pearly whites."

The phrases are references to the appearances and apparent health of a person's teeth.

On Nov. 14-15, representatives of the Panhandle Public Health District (PPHD) visited Central Elementary School in Sidney promoting proper dental care.

Kendra Lauruhn, PHRDH Public Health Registered Dental Hygienist, explained the importance of consistent dental hygiene practices and snack choices to preschool and kindergarten students as part of the agency's outreach program.

Lauruhn taught students the importance of food choices, fruits and vegetables instead of sweets, and brushing teeth twice a day. The program also instructed students to not use too much toothpaste when brushing teeth.

In addition, the PPHD program provides students with fluoride treatments and dental sealants.

"Those are preventive services so we are helping prevent cavities," Lauruhn said.

Fluoride varnish treatments re-mineralizes weakened tooth enamel and prevents almost 40 percent of cavities in primary (baby) teeth. Fluoride varnish is a sticky, honey-like substance applied to teeth with a small brush, according to the PPHD website. The substance is called "varnish" because of its sticky consistency. The website states fluoride varnish can be applied four to six times per year and can reduce cavity development by about 38 percent. Fluoride varnish is safe and adheres to teeth once it comes in contact with saliva and is precisely applied to the teeth. It is approved by the American Dental Association and the Federal Drug Administration.

Dental sealant is a plastic material, resin, applied to the back teeth. Tooth decay can begin on the chewing surfaces - the pits and grooves that trap plaque, bacteria and bits of food - of the back teeth.

Sealants are most often placed in children and teenagers because tooth decay can start soon after teeth come in, according to the website. However, adults can sometimes benefit from sealants too, because the risk of development cavities never goes away.

According to the Center for Disease Control, oral diseases and disorders in and of themselves affect heath and well-being through life. Lifestyle behaviors that affect general health such as tobacco use, excessive alcohol use and poor dietary choices affect oral and craniofacial health as well. Oral diseases and conditions are associated with other health problems, the CDC says.

The Mayo Clinic website encourages brushing teeth at least twice a day, flossing daily, replacing your toothbrush at least every three months and schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings.


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