GEORGETOWN – In line with National Children’s Dental Health Month, Georgetown Elementary School got a visit from Brown County Health and Wellness on Feb. 4.
Becky Morrison, a dental hygienist and board member of the Brown County Health and Wellness Foundation, is visiting elementary schools throughout the county to provide education on dental health for fourth graders in all Brown County elementary schools. She started in Georgetown on Thursday morning before moving on to Sardinia and eventually all of the schools in the county. She is joined by Jeannie Mussinan and Peggy Staggs in educating fourth graders county-wide on the importance of dental health.
“Fourth graders are an easier group to talk to,” Morrison said. “You can go more into detail about bacteria and they understand more about the mouth and science and that level of understanding. A lot of groups touch on kindergarten through second grade but fourth graders need the same kind of education, too.”
According to Morrison, the team will eventually see 547 fourth grade students in the county by the time they are finished. The region has struggles with dental care, as does almost all of Appalachia, but the biggest concern is finding providers for low-income patients.
“There is a huge need here for sure,” Morrison said. “Providers have a hard time because Medicaid doesn’t pay like a regular insurance company. Say you have a bit ring x-ray that a regular insurance company will pay $26 for, Medicaid reimburses $5 to the provider. What else also happens is lots of times are cancellations and no shows. The doctor is losing time and business because of that.”
The other big struggle for residents of Brown County is living far away from Cincinnati. While there may be several providers in the greater Cincinnati area, getting there is sometimes the biggest hurdle.
“Living an hour away from the city where they can find providers doesn’t help,” Morrison said. “They are transportation issues. People can’t get an hour away. It’s a huge issue out here. Kids are missing school because of their teeth hurting. Decay is the number one disease in the nation.”
While tooth decay is a big concern for overall health, providing the needed education to prevent decay is also a struggle. Morrison said dental hygiene education is not about brushing and flossing, it’s about overall health. Nutrition plays a huge role into overall oral health.
“A lot of the things we have wrong with us are about nutrition,” Morrison said. “It is why I try to go into the sugar intake and that sort of thing. It’s why I don’t just say, ‘this is how you brush your teeth.’ I try to go into all of that.”
Each student is provided with a packet that contains a tooth brush, tooth paste, dental floss, and a white sand two minute timer with hopes to promoting oral health in elementary school children. All 547 students are receiving those packets thanks to the Brown County Health and Wellness Foundation.