UM Receives Grant to Provide Free Oral Care to Miami-Dade County Students

March 20, 2012

School-aged children will soon be sporting bright, toothy grins thanks to a generous grant that will help provide free oral health care services to elementary, middle and high school students in Miami-Dade County.

The Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation School Health Initiative, a signature program of the Miller School’s Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, in conjunction with Nova Southeastern University College of Dental Medicine, has received a $129,000 grant from the Health Foundation of South Florida to provide free preventive oral health services, including fluoride varnishes and dental sealants, to students of Miami-Dade County Public Schools.

“Health Foundation’s support of our oral health program—dubbed PEARLS for Prevention, Education, and Access to Receive Lasting Smiles—enables thousands of children to receive needed dental services,” said Joycelyn Lawrence, M.D., assistant professor of family medicine and medical director of the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation School Health Initiative. “Children will have improved access to school-based preventive dental care and oral health education.”

As part of the foundation grant, nurses and physicians at school-based clinics throughout Miami-Dade can receive training by dentists at Nova’s College of Dental Medicine on applying fluoride varnishes.

“This simple procedure helps prevent tooth decay,” said Ana Karina Mascarenhas, B.D.S., M.P.H., Dr.P.H., associate dean of research and chief for primary care at Nova’s College of Dental Medicine. Sixth-grade students enrolled in the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation School Health Initiative school clinics will be eligible for dental sealants to help protect their teeth.

“Preventive oral health care has a major role in decreasing the incidence of dental caries, a common childhood disease that affects more than 50 percent of children aged 5 to 9 years,” said Peter Wood, M.P.A., vice president of programs and community investments at the foundation.

The school health initiative, a partnership between the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation and the Miller School, provides students in the North Miami Beach and North Miami academic feeder patterns with onsite access to comprehensive primary care, nursing, and mental health services, including prevention/wellness education, from elementary through high school.