WVU School of Dentistry helps state go from an ‘F’ to a ‘C’

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – “West Virginia has a new reason to smile.” That’s how Louise Veselicky, D.D.S., interim dean of the West Virginia University School of Dentistry, reacted upon hearing the news that the state’s grade on dental care for children raised from an ‘F’ to a ‘C.’

Grades for all 50 states were reported by the Pew Children’s Dental Campaign. West Virginia was one of 22 states that received grades higher than their 2010 grades. Grades are based on states’ performance in meeting eight policy benchmarks for children’s dental health. To attain the ‘C’ grade, West Virginia met or exceeded four benchmarks:

  • having sealant programs in at least 25 percent of high-risk schools
  • providing optimally fluoridated water to at least 75 percent of residents who are served by community water systems
  • meeting or exceeding the 2007 national average (38.1 percent) of Medicaid-enrolled children ages one to 18 receiving dental services
  • paying dentists who serve Medicaid-enrolled children at least the 2008 average (60.5 percent) of dentists’ median retail fees

Jason Roush, D.D.S., who serves as state dental director for the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, said the WVU School of Dentistry is part of the West Virginia Oral Health Program’s advisory board and a big part of the state’s dental community, which made the grade possible.

“The WVU School of Dentistry is an important partner within the dental community. The school played a key role in establishing and implementing our oral health plan,” he said. “But the biggest reason for this progress is everyone working together to improve the oral health of children in West Virginia.”

Dr. Veselicky said the school provides children on Medicaid and the West Virginia Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) with sealants through CHOMP (Children with Healthy Oral cavities Morgantown Program). In CHOMP, kids from several counties are bused to the WVU School of Dentistry, where they receive the oral healthcare they need. The school also participates in Smiles Across America, which provides sealants to children who do not qualify for Medicaid or CHIP.

In September and October, the School of Dentistry will roll out a medical infant oral health program to teach medical care providers how to educate patients and their families during well-child visits on the importance of proper oral health, direct them to a dentist in their area and provide fluoride varnish.

“Education is the key. If we can teach our kids how to take care of their teeth at an early age, they will continue good oral hygiene practices throughout their lives,” Veselicky said.

For more information: Angela Jones, HSC News Service, 304-293-7087
asj: 05-25-11