The top cause of school absences
is also the most preventable
Dental pain impacts a child’s ability to eat, sleep, learn and play. Children with poor oral health are nearly three times more likely to miss school and perform poorly. Screenings of 3,399 elementary school students in Los Angeles found that 66% of children had active dental disease, 27% had visible tooth decay and 6% required emergency care.
The L.A. Trust’s Oral Health Initiative has been forging partnerships with providers and partners for seven years to bring free oral health education, screenings and referrals to children who lack dental care. In the 2019 school year we worked with Los Angeles Unified and providers like UCLA More LA Smiles to facilitate screenings for more than 1,700 kindergartners and third graders. We convened public health officials and private dental providers through our Oral Health Advisory Board meetings. We brought oral health care information into dozens of schools. In 2020, we hosted our fifth annual Tooth Fairy Event, informing (and entertaining) thousands. And we launched Operation Tooth Fairy, raising oral health awareness and distributing more than 50,000 toothbrushes during COVID-19.
- A School-Based Public Health Model to Reduce Oral Health Disparities – Journal of Public Health, 2017.
- A School-Based Public Health Model to Reduce Oral Health Disparities (overview) – David Geffen School of School of Medicine et al.