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New law focuses on dental health

A new state law targeting children’s oral health mandates that those entering school for the first time in California first must have a dental checkup.

Those who can’t find a dentist, can’t afford one or whose parents or guardians refuse the mandate can be exempted, according to the California Department of Education.

“This is a really wonderful idea,” said Richard Mantle, CAO at the Sierra Family Medical Clinic on the San Juan Ridge. “A kid died of a tooth abscess in Baltimore two weeks ago” because the parents could not afford to get him care.



Part of the law’s purpose is to steer underprivileged children to places where they can get dental care, according to Sharyn Turner, who coordinates health services at the Nevada County Superintendent of Schools Office.

“Nevada County has been pretty good about this with school screenings” done earlier this year, said Terrie Horlick, who runs the Grass Valley office of her husband, Terry Horlick, who specializes in children’s dentistry.




Even so, the Horlicks are expecting to see plenty of patients fulfilling the new requirement through May who weren’t screened earlier, she said.

“It’s a good idea,” said Dr. Lindsey Robinson, another pediatric dentist in Grass Valley. “We have a lot of dental disease in the community and there’s no fluoride in the water here” to combat tooth decay. “We need to treat these children.”

Those eligible for MediCal can get the dental portion of the coverage. The Healthy Families program can also help. There is also low-cost dental clinics in the area that can be accessed (see accompanying box).

Dr. Michael Grossman of San Diego is touting his discount New Dental Health plan as “the solution to some of the problems that may come up because of this law,” particularly for uninsured patients who don’t qualify for public assistance.

In Nevada County, Grass Valley dentists Dr. Mark Paye and Dr. Richard Preece belong to Grossman’s plan, along with others from Auburn, Yuba City and Roseville.

“Dentistry is very expensive,” Grossman said, and that’s one of the reasons why he has put his plan forward to drum up business to meet the new law. It is also because 25 percent of all children suffer 80 percent of the country’s tooth decay, Grossman said, and they need treatment.

Law details

The law requires any new kindergarten student, or a first-grader going to school for the first time in the fall, must prove to their school district by May 31 prior that they have had a dental checkup.

If a child received one in the year before entering school, that can be used to meet the requirement, so long as the child brings a dental check-up form during May school sign-ups. Those who can’t or won’t make the requirement must indicate so on the same “Oral Health Assessment/Waiver Request” form.

The new requirement is another piece of May paperwork that entering students must add to their list, like vaccinations, Turner.

Once the school district gets a dental checkup or a signed waiver form for one, the student is in compliance with the law and no-name statistics are sent on to the state to determine how healthy California children’s teeth are.

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To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail davem@theunion.com, or call 477-4237.

There are several Web sites where you can get help. To download a form for an official state dental health checkup form or waiver, go to http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/he/hn/.

Private dentists and clinics in Nevada County can fulfill the obligation, but if you need to find a particular low-cost dentist or need public assistance, log on to:

– MediCal’s DentiCal,

http://www.denti-cal.ca.gov

– Healthy Families, http://www.healthy

families.ca.gov/hfhome.asp

– Nevada County Public Health Department, new.mynevadacounty.

com/ph/index.cfm

– New Dental Choice,

http://www.newdentalchoice.com


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