County Dental and Nutrition Programs for Children Receive Extra Funding
For release August 18, 2005
Hundreds of low-income children in Concord's Monument Corridor will get extra help fighting dental decay thanks to some additional funding for Contra Costa Children's Oral Health Programs.
Dental decay is one of the most common chronic diseases affecting children and is an epidemic, said Lynn Pilant, manager of Contra Costa Children's Oral Health Programs. Contra Costa Supervisor Mark DeSaulnier awarded her program $7,600 from his office's surplus budget funds. He also gave $4,000 to the county's Women, Infants and Children Supplemental Nutrition Program (WIC) for healthy eating and physical activity education classes.
Pilant said her program will use the money for dental health education classes for 200 low-income families in the Monument Corridor and to train four of the program's dental assistants how to apply sealants to children's teeth.
"Tooth decay and poor oral hygiene not only affect children's self-esteem but also their eating habits and their overall health, as well as their ability to concentrate in school," Pilant said.
The classes teach families about healthy food choices and dental care to help prevent tooth decay, Pilant said. The first class was held Monday, August 15, and was attended by 51 people. The second class is scheduled for Monday, August 22, at Cambridge Community Center in Concord and is expected to have 100 participants.
Training for the dental assistants will make it possible to provide hundreds of more children a year with sealants that protect their teeth from decay, Pilant said. Currently, the program relies on dentists to volunteer their time and about 600 children receive dental sealants annually. With the program assistants trained to do the procedure, they'll be able to serve at least 1,000 children a year, Pilant said.
"Because of the extra money from Supervisor DeSaulnier, we'll be able to help protect the smiles of an additional 400 children every year," Pilant said.
The WIC program will use its $4,000 to teach a series of nutrition classes for low-income families in the Monument Corridor area starting in October, said WIC Director Beverly Clark. The classes will include outings to local grocery stores with a nutritionist who will demonstrate how to shop healthier by choosing healthy foods and reading product labels.
Supervisor DeSaulnier said by cutting operational costs at his office he was able to pass on his savings to county programs that would benefit from a little extra funding.
"Children's dental health and nutrition are important programs that have a direct impact on our youngest citizens' futures, and I am happy to be able to support such important causes," DeSaulnier said.
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