USC gets grant to supply child dental care

Nov. 30, 2012 at 11:06 PM
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LOS ANGELES, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- Funds from a 50-cent tax on tobacco sold in California will provide dental care to 46,000 disadvantaged children and their families, officials say.

The Ostrow School of Dentistry of the University of Southern California is to receive nearly $18 million from the non-profit organization First 5 LA to support dental care outreach to young children. Established in 1998, First 5 LA oversees the Los Angeles County's allocation of funds from Proposition 10, which added a 50-cent tax on tobacco products sold in California.

The Ostrow School of Dentistry programs will implement oral health education and oral disease prevention programs; assess dental treatment needs; assist families that enroll in insurance programs; contribute to the operation of two community dental clinics and provide sedation services at those sites; conduct dental public health research; and train dentists and other healthcare professionals in providing preventive services and dental care to young children, university officials said.

Of special importance is the goal to help children and their families find "dental homes" -- affordable dental offices that families will visit regularly for care and prevention, said Roseann Mulligan, associate dean for Community Health Programs and Hospital Affairs at the Ostrow School.

Mulligan said the impact of poor dental health on children in Los Angeles is very significant. An earlier Ostrow School study found that nearly 73 percent of disadvantaged children in Los Angeles have active caries -- the disease responsible for tooth decay, while another study found children who reported recent tooth pain were four times more likely to have a low grade point average and missed significantly more school than children without dental problems.

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