Oral Health Initiative

The Los Angeles Trust for Children’s Health views oral health to be essential but an often overlooked a component of wellness that directly affects students ability to thrive in the classroom.

By third grade, tooth decay affects 71% of students in California (Dental Health Foundation)

Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease among American children. The pain from a tooth decay compromises a child’s ability to eat, sleep, play, and learn; and tooth decay can also negatively affects self-esteem and social development. This, in turn, leads to poor academic performance, and if this problem continues into adulthood, it can result in missed work days and employment issues. 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.”

View infographic about dental disease and California’s kids.

The L.A. Trust’s Oral Health Initiative works to address this crucial issue in three areas:

  • Provide community-wide oral health education
  • Provide direct preventive care and early intervention on school campuses
  • Link all elementary school campuses to restorative care

The L.A. Trust Oral Health Initiative Best Practices

School-Based Oral Health Provider Map

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. Dental screening, oral health education, and fluoride varnish were provided to about 10,000 students. A dental referral list tailored to students’ geographic area was issued them to take home. At each site, we have consistently found that 5% of the students (or about 500 total) needed urgent dental care. For these students the Oral Health Resource Nurse directly contacted their parents to inform and link them to local dental care providers. We have also reached more than 20,000 students in our educational efforts on oral health.

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Annual Oral Health Poster Contest

Calling all LAUSD student artists and health leaders! As part of our Oral Health Initiative, we are spreading the word about the importance of taking care of our teeth. After all, they have to last us our entire lives! Don’t miss this awesome opportunity to utilize and showcase your artistic talents by creating a poster promoting the importance of proper oral health care. Take a look at the poster contest fact sheet to get started on your artistic way.

Six winners will be selected by our Oral Health Advisory Board. Three (3) poster entries from LAUSD middle schools and three (3) poster entries from LAUSD high schools will receive a gift card ($300 for 1st prize, $200 for 2nd prize, $100 for 3rd prize). The winning posters will be duplicated and distributed for placement in LAUSD Wellness Centers next year!

View past contest winners!