Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2017 02 Nordc 1

NORDC and NDA announce summer campers “Back-to-school-cavity-free!” program

March 1, 2017
This is a short synopsis of NORDC dental words
Plans are underway for the first Summer Campers “Back-to-school-cavity-free!” initiative. The program is a collaboration of the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission (NORDC) and the National Dental Association (NDA).

The project will consist of a series of NORDC events that will take place March 4 through August 19. The goal is to provide free dental care for the city’s 4,000 summer camp enrollees and to send each camper back to school with happy smiles and a healthy head start. The project is supported by the Louisiana Department of Health and the State Oral Health Coalition. Corporate sponsors are VOCO, Colgate, Henry Schein Inc., and Sunstar.

The program was conceived to address persistent oral health disparities impacting vulnerable and underserved populations. In 2007, 12-year-old Deamonte Driver, a Maryland boy, died from untreated tooth decay that caused a deadly brain infection. A simple dental screening, referral to a dentist, and an $80 extraction would have saved his life. But he was uninsured, and Maryland’s public health system failed him.

The National Dental Association (NDA) began a crusade to address issues of access and disparities, believing that no one should ever die from a preventable disease like tooth decay. In 2014, NDA-HEALTH NOW-New Orleans was launched at the Treme Center. But since that time, death from dental disease struck again when a popular New Orleans trumpeter, Travis Hill, died while on tour in Japan from a dental infection that caused his heart to stop beating, and a 26-year-old diabetic truck driver died from a tooth infection that spread to his lungs.

The following findings were cited in a report published in 2010 by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Oral Health Program entiteld, “Oral Health in Louisiana,” a document on the Oral Health Status of Louisiana’s Population."

There are 80 Title I schools in the New Orleans area.
In 2009, 38.5% of 776,127 Medicaid eligible children received dental services.
478, 533 children covered by Medicaid did not receive dental care in 2009
87% of the state is designated as a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA), including Orleans and the surrounding parishes (which are also designated as Dental Health Shortage Areas).

In Louisiana, there is a chronic shortage of oral health data and the state’s Oral Health Program is striving to overcome this challenge. Louisiana also received a failing grade in oral health from the most recent Pew Report that rated each state on performance in eight benchmark areas.

Community partners will provide dental services and health education and will form provider networks to increase access to care. The coordinated efforts of voluntary health organizations, consumer groups, and concerned citizens are vital to the success of this program. Dr. Hazel Harper, Project Director said, “Partnerships uniting sports organizations, schools, churches, community businesses, and other community groups and leaders working together with the health community can contribute significantly to improved oral and general health.”

To learn more about the 2017 NORDC “Back-to-school-cavity-free!” oral health events for children, visit

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