An eightmember team of NYUCD pediatric residents and faculty traveled recently to St. Thomas and St. Croix in the Virgin Islands to provide free dental screenings and treatment services to children enrolled in the V.I. Department of Human Services ’ Head Start and Lutheran Social Services ’ Early Head Start Programs. Head Start mandates that all children entering the program receive an oral health exam within 90 days of enrollment.
The Head Start Programs and the V.I. Department of Health have an agreement with NYUCD to conduct free examinations every six months for up to 500 children enrolled in the program. In addition to exams, NYUCD provides teeth cleaning, fluoride treatment, oral health education and triage. Head Start and DOH are providing transportation, housing and facilities.
Under the leadership of Dr. Amr Moursi, Professor and Chair of the Department of Pediatric Dentistry, and Dr. Neal Herman, Clinical Professor of Pediatric Dentistry, the four resident, four faculty member team conducted more than 300 screenings on St. Croix and more than 100 screenings on St. Thomas over a one week period.
Dr. Herman, who also serves as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administrator for Children and Families, Region II, said that the difference in screening numbers is explained by the fact that children on St. Thomas have had access to pediatric dental care and have received ongoing treatment, while St. Croix has no pediatric dentist.
"Each visit is better than the last," said Dr. Herman. "Over time, because the children are getting the care they need, things should improve dramatically. Youngsters with serious dental problems should be fewer and fewer."
The program is supported by a grant from the American Dental Association Foundation ’ s (ADAF) Samuel Harris Fund.