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Children Receive Free Sealants On Sealant Day, Feb. 16

For the seventh year, OHSU School of Dentistry will provide care for Buckman Arts Elementary School students as part of National Children's Dental Health Month

Several classrooms of school-age children will receive free oral care at Oregon Heath & Science University School of Dentistry on Sealant Day, Feb. 16, as part of National Children's Dental Health Month. The majority of students receiving care are uninsured second- and third-graders from Buckman Arts Elementary School in southeast Portland.

 "Traditionally, we have worked with Buckman Elementary for our annual Sealant Day program because they have a number of low-income students," said Mary Ann Haisch, R.D.H., coordinator for outreach services. "Many of the children we see on Sealant Day have never seen a dentist. Without access to good oral care these young people are at risk for a whole range of health problems as they grow older."

The Buckman students will arrive at the OHSU School of Dentistry by bus at 9 a.m. (Media are welcome to attend; please call ahead to make arrangements). The Buckman children will be treated in the school's new Dr. and Mrs. Carl Rietman Pediatric Dental Clinic, a comprehensive clinic dedicated to treating children from birth to 14, including children with special needs. The children will head back to school around 1 p.m.

The Buckman children receiving care on Sealant Day were prescreened by the School of Dentistry's pediatric dental residents. Buckman teachers recommended which children to screen and were instrumental in encouraging the children's families to participate.

Sealants seal with a plastic coating the nooks and crannies on top of new permanent teeth to prevent bacteria from developing into cavities. The sealants last up to five years.

 "Children's teeth are most at risk for dental decay after their back teeth, also known as six-year molars, have grown in, said Prashant Gagneja, D.D.S., M.S., head of the pediatric dentistry department at OHSU. "Sealants are simple to put on and very effective in preventing cavities. If we can prevent someone from getting a cavity when they are young, we have a significantly better chance of keeping their teeth free of decay as they age."

The Buckman students will be treated by OHSU School of Dentistry faculty, pediatric dental residents and fourth-year dental students.

 "Sealant Day provides our students the opportunity to take what they've learned in the classroom and put it into practice. It is essential for students to conduct care on a variety of patients during their training," said School of Dentistry Dean Jack Clinton, D.M.D. "We want our students to be well-versed in compassionate, communicative dental care on patients of all ages."

The OHSU School of Dentistry is 105.

For more than a century, OHSU has been a primary source of health care for low-income and uninsured individuals in Oregon. However, access to Oregon's health care system generally has become severely compromised for uninsured and underinsured people. OHSU is committed to the well-being of medically underserved populations and is encouraging a public dialogue to find equitable and compassionate solutions to this crisis of access. For additional information, please visit

The American Dental Association ( held the first national observance of Children's Dental Health Day on Feb. 8, 1949. This single-day observance became a week-long event in 1955. In 1981 the program was extended to a month-long celebration known today as National Children's Dental Health Month. Since 1941 the observance has grown from a two-city event into a nationwide program. National Children's Dental Health month messages reach millions of people in communities across the country and at numerous armed service bases abroad. Local observances often include poster-coloring and essay contests, health fairs, free dental screenings, museum exhibits, classroom presentations and dental office tours.

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