Due to the ongoing lead crisis, many children in the Flint area of Michigan now drink bottled water, which typically doesn’t include fluoride. Or, they’re drinking more sugar-sweetened beverages instead of tap water, further putting their teeth at risk of tooth decay.
To combat these obstacles, the Delta Dental Foundation is providing $204,000 to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and the Mott Children’s Health Center to support free fluoride rinse and varnish programs for students.
“The fluoride rinse and varnish programs are safe and effective interventions for children who do not get enough fluoride in their drinking water,” said Carol Lutey, director for child and adolescent dentistry at the Mott Children’s Health Center.
Starting June 1, up to 6,000 children in kindergarten through sixth grade in the Flint Community Schools summer programs will receive fluoride rinses. Also, up to 2,000 students attending Head Start programs in Genesee County will receive fluoride varnish applications this fall.
The fluoride rinse program will expand to surrounding schools later this year. A team from the University of Michigan Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit will evaluate the programs for their effectiveness.
“Fluoride is very important for good oral health,” said Teri Battaglieri, director of the Delta Dental Foundation. “It helps to prevent tooth decay, which is the most common chronic childhood illness in the United States.”
“Our priority remains on ensuring that children and families in Flint have access to all of the health services they need,” said Nick Lyon, director of MDHHS. “These programs made possible by our partnership with the Delta Dental Foundation are vital as we move forward in providing Flint residents with access to good, healthy resources.”