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UV's Tooth Brushing Program Heads to a National Stage
A tooth brushing program at Unadilla Valley Elementary School is headed to the national stage when Bassett Healthcare registered dental hygienist Teresa Woodard attends the 2017 National School-Based Health Care Convention in Long Beach, Calif.

Woodard will be presenting information on the program at the convention slated for June 19 to June 21. Bassett Healthcare is funding Woodard’s attendance. The Toothbrushes in the Classroom program is a provided as part of the Bassett School Based Health Center program, which serves Unadilla Valley and several other area school districts. Woodard said the program at UV reaches all classes in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade.

She does a short presentation to each class and then lets teachers take the leading role in implementing the tooth brushing for each student to ensure it doesn’t interfere with class time.

Toothbrushes, toothpaste and 2-minute timers are provided to the students.
Tooth brushing helps to disrupt the thin layer of plaque, which is made up of bacteria and food that sticks to the teeth. Over time, the acid that is produced by the bacteria break down the tooth surface, causing a cavity. Disruption of this acid attack is crucial in prevention of decay.

When Woodard, who also works with other schools in the regions, is at the district, she provides basic dental care, such as cleanings, sealants and referrals. The dental services are available to students who are enrolled as patients in the School Based Health Center program, however the Toothbrushes in the Classroom program is open to all students.

“Statistics have shown that oral health definitely affects overall health, so anything from speaking to eating to dietary, self-confidence,” Woodard said.

Early intervention is also very important, she said.

“You definitely don’t want to get to the level of pain because it can interfere with the class day,” Woodard said.

UV Superintendent Robert Mackey lauded the program.

“Given the district’s increasing poverty rate of 68 percent as reported on UV’s NYS School Report Card for 2015-16, we were concerned that dental insurance may be a luxury many families don’t have,” Mackey said. “We worked together with Teresa, the SBHC staff and our nurse’s office to secure the supplies needed to implement this tooth brushing program for our elementary grades.”

The district is planning on continuing the program next school year, according to Mackey.
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