Lowell Community Health Center is thrilled to be taking part in an innovative new partnership, launched by Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan, which will help address health issues such as dental decay and pain that contribute to missed school days.
As part of the partnership, Lowell Community Health Center will care for school children identified by Middlesex Community College Dental Hygiene as needing follow-up care in the dental office, especially any urgent cases.
Read the Full Press Release From The Office of the Middlesex District Attorney Below:
Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan, Middlesex Community College, Regis College, Lowell Community Health Center and Lowell Public Schools Launch Oral Health Initiative to Improve Outcomes for Youth
LOWELL – Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan, Middlesex Community College, Regis College, Lowell Community Health Center and Lowell Public Schools today announced a new partnership that will provide students with preventative oral hygiene care with the goal of improving the health and wellness of children. This initiative was launched by District Attorney Ryan based on research which shows that many children who have behavioral issues in school are suffering from poor oral health.
“Our job is to keep kids safe and to give them the resources to build resiliency, stay healthy and be present at school. We know that students can’t be at their best if they are suffering from a cavity, gum disease or other dental problems because of the lack of appropriate dental care. When a child has dental issues which cause them not to eat well, sleep well or be in pain during the day, they are going to have difficulties learning and behaving appropriately. What is worse is that these preventable problems can lead to truancy and juvenile delinquency. Interventions that address these problems are best begun during the elementary school years,” said District Attorney Marian Ryan.
“The dental hygiene program at MCC has always had a strong commitment to improving access to oral hygiene care for children in our community. It is so critical to children’s educational outcomes, attendance and behavior that they are free of pain, and confident in their smile. Our partnership with the District Attorney’s office, and our mutual commitment to health equity is allowing us to expand and enrich on our current community outreach program, broadening our reach and impact to improve oral health outcomes for children and families in greater Lowell,” said Karen Townsend, Director of Dental Hygiene Education at Middlesex Community College.
“Regis College is honored to partner with the District Attorney’s Office on this important initiative,” said Antoinette Hays, PhD, RN at Regis College. “Opened in 2019, Regis College’s Dental Center in Waltham not only provides our dental hygiene students with real world clinical experience, but also affordable oral health care to the community. I am thrilled we are able to bring that mission of education and service to other communities in the Commonwealth.”
As part of the program, dental students create lesson plans to bring dental health and wellness into the school curriculum to teach students to brush, floss and eat healthy.
In the Spring 2022 semester, Middlesex Community College and Regis College dental hygiene students will offer oral screening assessments and preventative services such as fluoride treatments and dental sealants to elementary school students. As part of the program, parents will receive information on how to sign their students up to have free or reduced-cost preventative dental work done at their school or local dental clinic.
The initiative is already underway in seven Lowell Public Schools with other communities already in discussion to bring it to their school districts.
“We are pleased to join with District Attorney Ryan and other community partners to improve access to oral health services for the youth in our community,” said Susan West Levine, CEO of Lowell Community Health Center. “At the health center, we are committed to addressing oral health is a key component of overall health and wellbeing. This program will allow us to reach more youth so that they can do their best, in and out of school. With an on-site dental center and two full-service, school-based health centers in Lowell, including at Lowell High School and Stoklosa Middle School, we are well positioned to reach children and teenagers who might otherwise lack access to oral health care. We are grateful to District Attorney Ryan for her commitment to advancing equitable access to care.”
“Access to education around a healthy mouth is critically important for kids,” said Teresa Soares-Pena, Principal at Bulter Middle School in Lowell. “For years we have been incorporating health and wellness into our curriculums and this program builds on that by not only demonstrating positive habits for students but also giving them the tools, like toothpaste and toothbrushes, to practice at home and to maintain good oral health.”
“With the use of vaping and other harmful drugs at younger ages on the rise, the need for oral care education and instruction to create healthy oral hygiene habits has grown,” District Attorney Ryan continued. “This program is providing true wrap-around services with early intervention that can impact the future for these children.”
Since the program’s rollout this summer, 570 students have received interactive classroom education and 1,100 toothbrushes and oral health aides have already been distributed at Lowell Public Schools including Oral Health Newsletters in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Khmer.