The L.A. Trust Oral Health Initiative
By third grade, tooth decay affects 71% of students in California (Dental Health Foundation, 2006)
Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease among American children. Painful and obvious decay compromises one’s ability to eat, sleep, play, and learn, and negatively affects self-esteem and social development. This leads to poor academic performance, as well as missed work days and trouble finding a job. Although tooth decay is entirely preventable, access to preventive disease care is problematic for low-income families. (Pew Center on the States, 2012)
According to California Pan-Ethnic Health Network:
- Poor oral health can contribute to and worsen serious chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
- Causes of poor oral health include an inability to access dental providers, barriers due to limited English proficiency, and the cost of dental insurance.
- Other contributing factors include poverty and food security. As one researcher said, “The disparity in oral health between poor and affluent children in California is the worst in the nation.”
CLICK HERE to download the LAUSD School-Based Oral Health Provider Map & Contact List
New Report by Children Now and UCLA identifies opportunities to expand dental access for kids. Click here to read more.
Click here to view a one-pager about dental disease and California’s kids.
The L.A. Trust Oral Health Plan for LAUSD
The L.A. Trust’s Oral Health Initiative works to address this crucial issue in three areas:
- Providing community-wide oral health education
- Providing direct preventive care and early intervention on school campuses
- Linking all elementary school campuses to restorative care
Universal Screening and Fluoride Varnish Program
To date, The L.A. Trust has held 38 Universal Screening and Fluoride Varnish programs across 25 LAUSD sites. A total of 6,878 students received screening, oral health education, and fluoride varnish. A dental referral list tailored to their geographic area, have been sent home with each student. Consistently, we find 5% (314) of students in need of urgent dental care, to which they are immediately linked. More than 20,000 students have been reached as part of our educational efforts around oral health. Letters and a referral list were sent home with each student regardless of dental problems, and the Oral Health Resource Nurse directly contacted the parents of the 314 students in need of urgent dental care.
In collaboration with key partners, The L.A. Trust plans to:
- Expand the universal screening program to reach a total of 30 schools in 2016-17
- Identify local dental providers who accept low-income and uninsured patients
- Equip all school personnel with an annually updated list of current dental providers and improve the system of dental referral and follow-up tracking
- Partner with dental “hubs” where every child can be seen regardless of income or insurance
- A strategic goal of The L.A. Trust is to establish 24 dental hubs total across LAUSD (4 per Local District)
- Increase on-site dental restorative services at school campuses through:
- Mobile/portable chairs
- Mobile vans
- Services through School-based Wellness Centers
- Standardize data collection and metrics, link data to student attendance and performance records
- Dental directory on The L.A. Trust website to link students to a dental home
- Annual update of referral system through call-banking including student vetting
- Develop a “Learning Zone” training for school staff on oral hygiene instruction and education