First 5 LA has announced that the Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC will receive nearly $18.4 million in grant funds in support of its dental care outreach to young children in Los Angeles County.
The grant, the largest in the school’s history, will enable the Ostrow School of Dentistry’s Community Oral Health Programs to help nearly 46,000 disadvantaged children and their families over the next five years. The programs established and expanded by the grant will allow Ostrow to assess the oral health needs of children under the age of five, connect their families affordable insurance and dental clinics, and support the operations of those clinics. The impact of poor dental health on children in Los Angeles is extremely significant. An earlier Ostrow study found that nearly 73% of disadvantaged children in L.A. have active caries, the disease responsible for tooth decay. Another USC study found that kids who reported having recent tooth pain were four times more likely to have a low grade point average and missed significantly more school each year than children without dental problems. “Improving children’s dental health in L.A. County has been a major priority for First 5 LA,” said Kim Belshé, Executive Director of First 5 LA. “The USC grant will be addressing many of the critical oral health needs of children zero to five years of age.” Of special importance is the goal of helping children and their families find “dental homes,” affordable dental offices that families will visit regularly for care and prevention, said Roseann Mulligan, Associate Dean for Community Health Programs and Hospital Affairs at the Ostrow School of Dentistry. “If we can give families with young children information about oral health and help them locate dental homes, we can use education and prevention to stop disease before it starts instead of repairing the damage,” Mulligan said. The First 5 LA grant will allow the Ostrow School of Dentistry to: * Implement oral health education and oral disease prevention programs and assess dental treatment needs of children ages 0 to 5 throughout Los Angeles County. * Assist families in enrolling in insurance programs and finding affordable dental clinics. * Conduct dental public health research. * Operate a new dental facility at the Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center Hub Clinic run by the Violence Intervention Program (VIP) for approximately 15,000 children in foster care. * Develop and implement a sedation program at a dental clinic run by the St. John’s Well Child and Family Center. * Teach primary care physicians and nurses to spot potential oral health problems. * Educate general dentists on the special dental issues that very young children can have. * Admit two additional residents to its Pediatric Dentistry residency program each year. Residents serve in the school’s affiliated community clinics and hospitals during their residency and increase the number of pediatric dentists with experience and enthusiasm for serving the underserved in California.