Head Start Program

Objective: To conduct dental screenings for every child in our community, from those who have just had their first tooth erupt to children age eight. Having partnered with Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine is taking the lead to fight against early childhood cavities, the number one chronic infectious disease in children in America.

Our goal is to take preventive measures to reduce the number of children sent to the operating room for dental treatment. We do this by performing dental exams, prophylaxis and applying a bacteria-killing fluoride varnish to children’s teeth right at their school. The fluoride varnish reduces decay by 40% if applied every six months. It strengthens the child’s teeth, preventing costly dental procedures. By going out in the community, we hope to educate every teacher and parent about the importance of children’s oral hygiene and the effect it has on their health, performance and behavior.

This service is targeted to every child in our community who has not seen the dentist in the last six months. Our non-invasive lap-to-lap exam is child-friendly. Children are in a safe and familiar environment being in their own school. There are no big machines or chairs, just our Pediatric Dental residents who specialize in behavior management. Parents are encouraged to come and watch as well as any other child under the age of eight at home. Children take home their own battery-operated “Sesame Street” spinbrush, toothpaste, mirror, sticker of choice and a grade sheet informing the parents about their child’s teeth, whether follow-up care is needed or not. If treatment is needed, our card will be sent home with the child giving them a dental home. However, our goal is just to be sure each child has a dentist, whether it be with us or a dentist of parents choice.

Teachers are to inform the parents when we, CWRU School of Dental Medicine, are scheduled to perform dental screenings in their child’s school. They are to have the patient information sheet thoroughly filled out with a copy of the front and back of child’s insurance card, as well as the consent and release form signed. This is to be completed before we come. As a result, when we arrive at the school, no child goes unseen. The only other thing we ask of the school is to have a table, chairs for the dentist, assistant and the children, and a trash can available. If there are any questions or concerns, we also provide an educational presentation to teachers and/or parents about our service and children’s oral health.

We are a non-profit organization; therefore, there is no additional out-of-pocket fee or co-pay if the child has insurance. This service will be billed to the child’s insurance, which covers dental screening costs twice a year. In the event of no insurance, we pursue grant money to cover the cost of the preventive service.