OGDENSBURG — Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center’s pediatrician, Dr. Kome Oseghale, recently began the practice of applying fluoride varnish to the teeth of some of her youngest patients. Working with the American Academy of Pediatrics and St. Lawrence County Public Health, Dr. Oseghale has successfully been able to apply the fluoride varnish to nearly 40 children in the past six weeks.
Dr. Oseghale chose this project she named 123 Smile to implement into her practice after attending an AAP conference where pediatric oral health was discussed.
“The evident need for better oral health in our pediatric population is high, especially in our younger, Medicaid population. Dental caries is the most prevalent chronic disease among children. Almost half of all children will experience tooth decay by the time they reach kindergarten.” De. Oseghale said in a press release from the hospital “That is not acceptable, and I have chosen to address this disparity within my practice through the 123 Smile program.”
Children as young as 12-18 months can get cavities. Fluoride varnish is a protective coating that is painted on teeth and helps prevent new cavities and helps stop cavities that have already started. The varnish can be used on babies from the time they have their first tooth, and it is recommended that the varnish be painted on the teeth 3-4 times a year.
“The application is quick and easy and does not have a bad taste. Most importantly, there is no pain,” Dr. Oseghale said.
Fluoride varnish is a preventive care service, per the United States Preventive Task Force. This means that all public and private health insurance plans should cover fluoride varnish.
According to the 2020 County Health Rankings, there is one dentist to 2,510 patients within St. Lawrence County, and some do not take Medicaid. Looking at data from the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) Oral Health Indicators for St. Lawrence County shows that 67.2% of third-grade children have dental caries, and another 39.5% have untreated dental caries. Studies have shown that applying fluoride varnish decreases caries by 30-35%.
The NYSDOH, along with the AAP and the American Dental Association, recommend that by incorporating oral health screenings, caries risk assessments, parental guidance, and fluoride varnish applications into well-baby visits as a routine standard of care, child health providers, like Dr. Oseghale, will be helping their young patients to achieve optimal oral health and prevent or minimize the health consequences of tooth decay.
For more information about the 123 Smile program, contact Dr. Oseghale’s office at 315-713-6770. Visit us on Facebook or on the web at www.claxtonhepburn.org to learn about the many ways we keep you and your family North Country Strong.