The Hub November 2016 | Page 6

Windsor Essex County Health Unit Oral health programs Good oral health is important to everyone’s overall health and well-being. Most oral health conditions, such as cavities and gum disease, are largely preventable through daily brushing, flossing and regular check-ups with your dentist. Taking proper care of your teeth and gums is a lifelong commitment that should be learned at an early age when teeth are developing. It is important to pass on oral health knowledge and habits to children as oral health can affect a child’s development. Poor oral health can lead to issues with eating and speech development. Dental issues and oral pain can also result in missed school days and impact learning and behaviour. Public health units are well-situated to take a leading role in improving oral health in the communities they serve. The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, along with all other public health units in Ontario, offers various oral health programs and services as outlined in the Ontario Public Health Standards. In Ontario, public health units are governed by these standards and they outline what programs and services the board of health is responsible to offer the community. Ontario’s public health units provide the Healthy Smiles Ontario program, which is a government-funded dental program that provides free preventive, routine and emergency dental services for children and youth 17 years old and under from low-income households. Health units also provide free routine dental screenings to students in elementary schools. Every year, dental hygienists and dental To find out more about the oral health programs and services offered at the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit call 519-258-2146 x. 1199 or visit assistants from the health unit visit all publicly funded and some privately funded elementary schools in Windsor and Essex County to screen Kindergarten and Grade 2 students. Depending on these screening results, additional students from other grades at that school may be screened. Every effort is made to inform the parents/guardians about the dental screening prior to the visit. Parents/guardians may exclude their child from screening by notifying the school principal/secretary in writing prior to the date of the screening. A letter of no consent will be honoured for that school year only. • The screening is done with a “no touch” technique although gloves are worn. • A 10 to 30 second visual look inside a child’s mouth is done with the aid of a sterilized mouth mirror and a light source. • Children are provided a new toothbrush and are educated on how to brush and floss their teeth. • Each child is given a dental report card. This report card highlights the findings of the screening. School dental screenings help identify children who may need emergency care, or may benefit from preventive dental services. The dental hygienist follows up with all children requiring further urgent dental care. If the parents/guardians do not comply with the child’s dental needs this is considered dental neglect and the Health Unit is obligated to refer the case to Children’s Aid Society under the Ontario Child and Family Act. School dental screenings are not meant to replace regular dental checkups by a licensed dental professional. The data collected from school dental screenings is used to help plan for future oral health services and health promotion and prevention programs in Windsor-Essex County. Adopting good oral health habits are important for everyone and we can start new habits at any age! Healthy oral habits include brushing and flossing daily, regular dental check-ups, and making nutritious food choices, including less sugary treats and beverages. Visit to find more information about oral health programs and services for you and your family! 6 The HUB -November 2016