Children's Dental Health Gets A "Seal" of Protection

Feb. 19, 2004
"Seal Georgia Day," recognized annually across the state, provides free sealants that protect against tooth decay.

Georgia Perimeter College's Dental Hygiene Program, housed on the Dunwoody campus, will host its annual "Seal Georgia Day" Feb. 20, from 9:30 until noon, as part of the national "Seal America" campaign to increase awareness of dental sealants for lower income and minority children.

"Seal Georgia Day," recognized annually across the state, provides free sealants that protect against tooth decay. Dental hygiene students from GPC, aided by dental assistant students from Gwinnett Technical College, will arm children with freshly sealed teeth and educational goodie bags.

"This is just another way, as healthcare professionals, that we can give back to the community and promote good oral health," says Sheryl Wentworth, GPC assistant professor of Dental Hygiene.

Wentworth describes sealants as plastic material that flows into the pits and fissures of a tooth and seals it from decay. "Last year we placed 170 pit and fissure sealants on 41 first-graders from Lilburn Elementary School in Gwinnett County," says Wentworth. "In 2002 we saw 42 third-graders from Meadowcreek Elementary School, also in Gwinnett County, who received 92 pit and fissure sealants."

Meadowcreek Elementary students on the free and reduced lunch program will be back this year to participate in "Seal Georgia Day." Approximately 76 percent of Meadowcreek students are in free and reduced lunch program.

With permission from parents/guardians, GPC's dental hygiene and Gwinnett Tech's dental assistant students place sealants under the direct supervision of faculty. Also supervising are Dr. Robert Robinson, dental director of the East Metro Health District, which covers Gwinnett, Rockdale and Newton counties; dental hygienist Jennie Fleming, prevention coordinator for the East Metro Health District; and Anita LaTourette, district dental hygienist.

Fleming and LaTourette are former GPC part-time faculty members, and Fleming is an alumna. "This process normally costs $25 or more per tooth," says Fleming. "It varies, but these children are getting basically $100 worth of dentistry at no charge."

Each year, children are taught proper tooth brushing and flossing with videos and demonstrations. Each student will receive a bag with a new toothbrush, tube of children's toothpaste, pencil and diploma.