By Kate Anslinger
Winthrop Public Schools will be partnering with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) to address the oral health needs of the students in the district.
The state program, known as SEAL (Seal, Educate, Advocate for Learning), provides a dental hygienist who will conduct exams for students choosing to participate with a parent’s consent. The idea behind the program is to offer a more convenient approach to getting annual dental exams in while also offering education on the importance of dental health.
Winthrop resident and dental hygienist Meghan MacAdams, will be the lead hygienist assigned to the school to ensure that all participating students receive exams, which will be conducted in the nurse’s office during the school day.
Exams will include an assessment of the child’s oral health, fluoride treatment, and an application of sealants, if needed. The organization and timing of the exams will be coordinated between MacAdams and the school nurses. The dental assessment is expected to take two minutes and the sealant and fluoride application is estimated to take no more than 20 minutes.
After inspecting the student’s teeth, she will send a full report home to the parents, which will annotate detailed information from the exam. In the event that further dental care is needed, MacAdams will personally reach out to the student’s regular dentist, as well as the parents to go over the findings.
The new-to-Winthrop program will start out at the Gorman Fort Banks School in late March or early April.
“We want to teach the students how dental health can affect every other aspect of their health,” said Middle-sschool nurse Tara Beuoy. “This program will allow us to offer an exam in a more comfortable setting.”
The exam will include age appropriate goodie bags with a fresh toothbrush.
The program, which is sustained by the state, will be offered every year if this year proves to be a success. Currently, the program is serving students in 13 communities across the Commonwealth. The hope is that this program will offer a proactive approach to care and prevent students from having to ultimately miss school due to dental treatment. Records show that 52 million school hours are lost each year due to dental issues or the need for dental treatment.