The Commonwealth Health Care Corp.’s Oral Health Program, under the Division of Public Health Services, is committed to improving oral health in the CNMI.
Through outreach work and the dental clinics at the CHCC, Tinian Health Center, and Rota Health Center, the Oral Health Program has recently been more successful than ever in initiatives to improve oral health, especially among children, and the CHCC would like to update the community on some of the Oral Health Program’s recent successes.
Donation of Bright Smiles, Bright Future Kits
On June 24, 2019, the CHCC Oral Health Program received over 200 Bright Smiles, Bright Future kits from Colgate. This collaborative effort was made possible by the Oral Health Program; Dr. Naina Kau, coordinator for Colgate’s Oral Health Education Program for Fiji and the Pacific Islands; and Micronesian Brokers Inc. The Bright Smiles kits will be distributed to students participating in the School Dental Sealant Program.
School Dental Sealant Program
Through a formal partnership with the CNMI Public School System, the CHCC Oral Health Program provides school-based preventive services to students enrolled in Head Start and students in 2nd and 6th grade on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota. The School Dental Sealant Program was implemented to combat the early onset of dental caries—also known as tooth decay or cavities—in children ages 6-14 years old.
The school sealant program was implemented on Rota in December 2018, and on Tinian in May 2019, marking the first time in over 10 years that both islands have had such a dental sealant program.
Collectively, 68.3% of students seen in the CNMI have dental caries.
-In December 2018, 84% of the PSS 2nd and 6th grade students seen in Rota were found to have dental caries.
-In May 2019, 61.7% of the PSS 2nd and 6th grade students seen in Tinian were found to have dental caries.
-May 2019, 67.7% of the PSS 2nd and 6th grade students seen in Saipan were found to have dental caries.
You and your children can take steps to prevent dental caries, including:
-Brushing your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.
-Cleaning between your teeth daily with floss.
-Eating healthy meals and limiting your snacking.
-Visiting your dentist regularly for oral cleanings and exams.
-Getting dental sealants (a thin protective coating applied to the chewing surfaces of the teeth to prevent tooth decay) from your dental health provider.
Oral health training
On June 28, 2019, the CHCC, in partnership with Dr. Peter Milgrom, professor emeritus for Oral Health Sciences at the University of Washington; and Dr. Ohnmar Tut, consultant evaluator for the CHCC Oral Health Program, conducted an oral health training workshop for medical providers and staff from the CHCC; Medical Associates of the Pacific; PSS Head Start Program; Women, Infants, and Children Program; and the Commonwealth Cancer Association. The training provided medical staff and community partners with information and strategies on the prevention and cessation of betelnut chewing, particularly among children and pregnant women, and on the safety of fluoride and fluoride varnish for children under 5 years old.
“On behalf of everyone in attendance, I would like to express our utmost thanks to Dr. Peter Milgrom and Dr. Ohnmar Tut for sharing with us their expertise on preventative and curative oral health topics. With the training that was provided, the Oral Health Program at CHCC and our community- based partners will be able to provide effective interventions to combat the high rates of childhood tooth decay and promote healthier pregnancy outcomes for the women in our community. While our first goal in improving oral health is prevention, the training also provided us with new, minimally invasive techniques for treating dental decay when preventative measures have failed. By combining the most effective preventative tools with new methods of treatment, I am optimistic that we will see improved oral health for our children,” said Dr. Mary A. Bellama, Dentist, CHCC Oral Health Program
Oral Health Program services are administered through the Maternal and Child Health Bureau. This program is funded through a federal grant (#HT12HP31858) from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (PR)