Oral Health Advisory Board focuses on prevention education

Dr. Jim Crall of UCLA More LA Smiles (and friend) discussed public oral health campaigns during the final Oral Health Advisory Board meeting of 2020.

Representatives of the L.A.’s student oral health community met online December 15 at the fourth and final 2020 meeting of The L.A. Trust’s Oral Health Advisory Board.  

More than three dozen oral health providers and stakeholders attended the event, which focused on public health campaigns and best practices for student oral healthcare in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Maryjane Puffer, executive director of The Los Angeles Trust for Children’s Health, discussed The L.A. Trustoral health education campaign on KLCS featuring Program Manager Esther Yepez and her kid-friendly puppet, Billy. The campaign has generated up to 1.5 million views to date.  

Puffer thanked QueensCare for funding upcoming student oral healthcare education by The L.A. Trust at nine LAUSD sites and introduced The L.A. Trust’s new Oral Health Toolkit, providing useful resources for student and community dental care providers.  

Dr. Maritza Cabezas, dental director for L.A. County Department of Public Health, and Dr. Abrey Daniel, walked attendees through the development of a County oral health education campaign. She outlined the campaign development process, including: determining the need; selecting the audience; developing the message; and crafting the final creative with the help of focus groups. The County’s campaign’s goals are to increase awareness among caregivers of children under 5, demonstrating the importance and ease of at-home oral health habits.  

“People don’t understand the disease process when it comes to cavities – it’s insidious,” said Dr. Jim Crall, project director of UCLA More LA Smiles. He said “there are a lot of disconnects in oral health treatment” for children. Simple changes in student behavior can make a big difference and education is key. He previewed a series of TV spots featuring Sesame Street characters, which will be shown on KLCS remote learning channels through February. The L.A. Trust helped facilitate the broadcast of the Sesame Street spots.  

Doors still open 

Gloria Velasquez, organization facilitator for LAUSD Health and Human Services, said  seven Wellness Centers and school-based health clinics were still providing partial or full oral health services for students and community membersEl Sereno Middle School (Western Dental); Hart Street Elementary School (Dr. Samoha); Jefferson Wellness Center (South Central Family Health Center); Maclay and Sun Valley Middle Schools (NEVHC); Monroe (Valley Community Health, appointment only); and Washington Prep Wellness Center (St. John’s Family and Wellness Center). 

Crall noted that the Medi-Cal Dental Transformation Initiative would continue but local DTI pilot programs would not. UCLA’s More LA Smiles LADRRS program (Los Angeles Dental Registry & Referral System) would be sustained for now and potentially integrated into the Department of Health Care Services. 

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