The Delta Health Alliance

Children’s Oral Health

Partner: Mississippi Department of Health

The overall goal of the Children’s Oral Health project is to improve the oral health outcomes of young children who attend licensed child care centers in targeted Mississippi Delta Counties. The project objectives are:

  • Increasing access to oral health services for children and families in Coahoma, Holmes, Issaquena, Sharkey, Leflore, and Sunflower counties;
  • Improving the oral health environments of young children by educating their parents and child care providers on best practices in oral health prevention;
  • Improving oral health delivery care systems in the Mississippi Delta through promoting programs and policies.

During the 2010-2011 cycle, the program targeted Coahoma, Leflore, Holmes, Sunflower, Issaquena, and Sharkey counties, which was a five county increase from the previous cycle. Below is a list of services and major accomplishments that the program delivered during last year.

Oral Health Services for Young Children

The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) project staff was successful in establishing positive relationships with child care providers in the target area: Coahoma, Sunflower, Issaquena, Sharkey, Leflore, and Holmes counties. These relationships were crucial as the project was implemented. Not only did the child care centers serve as the primary venue for most of the project phases, child care staff also served as liaisons with parents.

During 2010-2011, a total of 1762 children in 79 child care centers were screened for oral health diseases and treated with fluoride varnish to prevent dental caries, with a total of 2,693 screenings completed. In total, 87 children who had untreated decay with early or urgent treatment needs in the fall no longer had these needs in the spring. Specifically, 4 children with urgent treatment needs in the fall had no treatment needs in the spring, and 83 children with early treatment needs in the fall had no treatment needs in the spring.

Cavity Free Kids Training

The Cavity Free Kids (CFK) curriculum, developed by Washington Dental Service Foundation, provides the most up-to-date oral health information packaged in a format that caregivers can relate to and easily communicate to the children in their care. The Delta Oral Health Project offered and conducted CFK oral health trainings for parents and child care staff in Coahoma County in Year 2. All staff and parents of participating child care centers were invited to attend, and trainings were held at individual centers and at common locations in the communities.

One-hundred, thirty-four child care staff members participated in 14 training sessions. One-hundred, thirty-one participants completed both the pre- and post-tests that were conducted as part of the training. Twenty-eight parents participated in 4 training sessions.

Tomorrow’s Dental Office Today

Another component of this project is the TDOT or Tomorrow’s Dental Office Today unit located in Jonestown, MS. TDOT is a fully equipped mobile dental clinic. Local dentists volunteer their time to provide dental services to families in the surrounding area. During the 2010-2011 cycle, a total of 132 patients received services, including children and adults.

Advisory Committee Meeting

Last grant cycle four advisory board meetings were held with key stakeholders in four counties, at the MSU Extension Service building in Clarksdale, the public library in Sunflower, the Greenwood Leflore Hospital in Greenwood County, and at CMI Early Head Start Center in Holmes. The purpose was to provide advisory board members with an overview of the Delta Oral Health project, present key findings from the project’s second year, and to get input from them regarding the purpose and direction of the project. Key community stakeholders included 22 representatives from Holmes, Leflore, Coahoma, Sunflower counties. The advisory board provided key feedback towards making changes for the project to increase participation from parents and child care center directors.

Dentist Census

The project generated additional networking with local dentists in the participating counties. A dentist census was performed within the 6 counties. As a result, local dentists are now more aware of the program and more are eager to accept referrals. Also, MSDH has more information regarding dentists who are ready to collaborate for referrals and on TDOT. Maps were prepared to help visualize the disparities on the access to dental care for children under the age of 5 and also to show which counties have dentists willing to take referrals.