The Division of Public Health announced the launch of its school-based oral health outreach program, the Delaware Smile Check.

Debut screenings occurred Jan. 17 in Sussex County at Seaford Central Elementary School, and the program has already been conducted at seven schools throughout the state.

To date,1,018 children received screenings from a DPH hygienist who informs parents/guardians of each child’s oral health status through a report card that is sent home. In addition to the screenings, 1,018 students received preventive applications of fluoride varnish to strengthen teeth against decay and reverse early cavities.

The Delaware Smile Check is a grant-funded program that seeks to connect underserved children with dental homes and help coordinate treatment for children who have emergency dental needs. As a result of this program, 206 students have received referrals to treat suspected cavities, and 217 students who were identified as needing emergency care received help finding a dentist to treat them immediately.

So far, 46 dentists throughout the state have opened their doors to patients referred from this program, both insured and uninsured, to ensure they receive the treatment needed and establish a dental home for the future. As an additional component, nearly 3,000 students from pre-K to grade eight have received educational presentations in their schools from registered dental hygienists who gave lessons highlighting the importance of oral health.

The program currently relies on grant funds and donations to provide the supplies necessary to carry out the screenings. Dental Health Products Inc. donated fluoride varnish, toothbrushes and toothpaste that was distributed to high risk children in participating schools in February.

Schools interested in participating in this program are encouraged to email gena.riley@state.de.us.