The school year is ready to begin which means that it is once again time for Hudson River Health Care’s Dental Sealant Program to return to Peekskill schools. The twenty-seven year old program, which is sponsored by a grant from the New York State Department of Health and Hudson River Health Care, offers Peekskill students in grades 2 through 7 the opportunity to have a protective coating applied to their permanent molars and is provided free of charge to those without insurance coverage.
“Last year we saw over 900 students and placed over 3000 sealants,” said Ivette Alicea, a Registered Dental Assistant at Hudson River Health Care who works with the program.
Students whose parents choose to have them participate in the program can be seen as soon as their 6-year-old molars have grown in. They will be initially examined at their school nurse’s office by Dr. Clifford Hames, the Chief Dental Officer for Hudson River Health Care. If the child’s permanent molars are found to be healthy, they will be scheduled to have their teeth sealed by Alicea or Dental Assistant, Arlene Swankie. Students are also eligible to receive cleanings and fluoride treatments through the program as well.
“I personally have examined the teeth of every child who has participated in the program for the past 20 years and find this program to be a successful and proven example of an early intervention in the fight against tooth decay,” Hames said.
Alicea says that having this process done through the school program saves parents a substantial amount of money and notes that the out-of-pocket costs for dental sealants can range up to $100 per tooth. She also explains that for some it’s not the expense, but the inconvenience of the appointment that prevent parents from bringing their children in for dental procedures.
“Even if some parents have insurance to cover the costs of having the sealants applied, they might not have the time to get their children to a dentist because of their work schedule,” Alicea said. “Through our program, children with or without insurance can get sealants placed conveniently at school.”
The entire sealing process only takes about 10-15 minutes and is completely painless. For those students who have never been to a dentist office before, having the work done in a familiar environment can be a gentle introduction to the world of dentistry.
“It’s a great first dental experience for kids,” Alicea said. “And it goes very quick. We try not to have them out of class for too long.”
The program will kick-off the 2013-2014 school year at Oakside Elementary where third grade students will be seen first. The team of dental experts will then move onto Hillcrest Elementary and Peekskill Middle School over the next few months before returning to Oakside to finish off the year by seeing second grade students.
“We are most fortunate to partner with the Hudson River Healthcare Center to provide our students with the opportunity to have important dental care,” said Oakside Principal, Mary Foster. “We are thankful that our healthcare center is so responsive to the needs of our community.”
While the service is provided free of charge, those who do have insurance are asked to submit their information so that the program can receive reimbursement funding to help support the program.
Parents interested in enrolling their children in Peekskill’s free Dental Sealant Program are asked to fill out a consent form, which will be sent home with students early in the school year. This form is also available for download here. For more information on the Dental Sealant Program contact Hudson River Health Care or your child’s school nurse.