Public health a vital asset to community

Published 10:28 am Saturday, September 30, 2017

Every student in Clark County Public Schools — from kindergartens to high school seniors — will have the opportunity to get a free dental screening, thanks to a partnership with the Clark County Health Department.

Two dental hygienists will spend most of the next few months in local schools providing cleanings and dental examinations for about 1,800 Clark County students.

As part of the screening, students get an examination, a cleaning, dental sealants over cavity-prone areas, a fluoride varnish to help prevent future cavities, oral hygiene instructions and a report card including follow-up information.

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This program grew out of a pilot program started in Clark County in 2008.

The Clark County Dental Health Initiative was founded by a group of 20 area dentists to provide protective fluoride varnish treatments to students. The decay rate in the county was 50 percent at the time. Along with support from the Clark County Community Foundation and the CCHD, varnishes were applied to students twice a year, significantly reducing the decay rates in the county.

Now the program has grown to a statewide initiative and is offered to various other counties.

Programs like this and many others offered by the Clark County Health Department are vital for communities like ours.

They are often the first line of defense when it comes to creating a healthier, more vibrant community. The health department takes an active role in addressing public health concerns for the whole community, regardless of income.

Those services range from dental health to vaccinations and immunizations, environmental health, restaurant inspections, cancer screenings, family planning, physical therapy, smoking cessation, suicide prevention awareness, the needle exchange and referrals to addiction treatment. That list only touches the surface of all that health department offer communities.

Without access to the continually growing programs, communities would have increased challenges when it comes to health and well-being.

Healthy citizens — mentally, physically, emotionally and even financially — are the most vital building blocks of a successful community.

Programs like the dental health initiative show how early screening and access to affordable care can make a huge difference in the lives of even our youngest citizens.

We hope to see this program, along with the other programs at the health department, continue to grow and benefit Clark Countians from birth into adulthood.