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Dental Public Health Activities: Descriptive Summaries

Children's Oral Health Education Program- Archived Summary

Practice Number: 33027
Submitted By: Children's Oral Health Program, New Jersey Department of Health
Submission Date: March 2016
Last Reviewed: March 2016
Last Updated: March 2016
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The New Jersey Department of Health, Children’s Oral Health Program conducts school- based, interactive oral health education programs for children in grades pre-K to 12 in high need/high risk areas throughout the twenty-one counties of the State.  Topics include: good oral hygiene practices, importance of regular dental exams, healthy food choices, oral injury prevention and tobacco cessation.  Students participating in the oral health education programs receive oral care personal resources including toothbrush, tooth brushing timer, floss and education material for take home to use in the family setting. Schools in non-high risk areas utilize oral health teaching kits provided by the Children’s Oral Health Program in the classroom setting. These kits contain teaching puppets, videos, lesson plans, reproducible and other age appropriate materials that may be used by school staff in the classroom setting. In addition, the Children’s Oral Health Program administers a State funded school- based fluoride mouthrinse program, “Save Our Smiles” for schools in areas where the water supply is not optimally fluoridated.  A comprehensive “Save Our Smiles” training and resource manual is provided for all participating schools.  Numerous special initiatives take place throughout the school year. These initiatives include: “Sugar-Less Day to Prevent Tooth Decay” an early intervention initiative targeting fourth and fifth grade students designed to increase awareness of the relationship between healthy food choices and oral health. Students participate in a “Sugar-Less Day to Prevent Tooth Decay” poster contest with the posters displayed in the school.  Participating schools enjoy extensive media and press coverage. “Project: BRUSH” targets kindergarten and first grade students and addresses healthy food choices and the importance of tooth brushing and flossing.  This Program also includes the “Ask a Dental Hygienist” activity where students ask the hygienist questions about oral health for interactive classroom reply. Students participating in all special initiatives receive oral health care kits that include education material and personal care resources. On an annual basis, all schools receive the “Miles of Smiles” newsletter which serves as a resource for timely oral health topics along with program promotion efforts. Children’s Oral Health Program staff collaborate with numerous State and local agencies to implement a variety of activities to improve the oral health status of school age children throughout New Jersey. 

Lessons Learned:

The Children’s Oral Health Program, New Jersey Department of Health has over a 30 year history of providing oral health education to school age children. The longevity of the Program highlights its success.

Program staff work in close collaboration with school nurses to educate children about the importance of good oral health and regular dental exams.

The special initiatives of “Sugar-Less Day to Prevent Tooth Decay” and “Project: BRUSH” engage students, faculty, staff and the local community about the importance of good oral health.

Media coverage promotes school- based efforts and highlights the Children’s Oral Health Program activities.

Dental hygiene staff have county specific school assignments that promote continuity, support and on-going dialogue.

State and local agencies recognize the longevity and success of the Children’s Oral Health Program.  The Statewide Director and regional staff present program activities at numerous conferences including the New Jersey Education Association Annual Conference, New Jersey State School Nurses Conference and the New Jersey Public Health Nurse Administrators Annual Meeting in order to promote the importance of good oral health and engage multi-disciplinary staff.

Because of the long standing history of the Program, potential challenges to implement program activities have been addressed.  The Program does not experience negative barriers to guide successful implementation.

Contact Person(s) for Inquiries:

Beverly Kupiec-Sce, Ph.D., RN, Director, Children’s Oral Health Program, New Jersey Department of Health, P.O. Box 364, Trenton, New Jersey 0825-0364, Phone: 609-943-5749, Fax: 609-292-3580