A school-based dental program designed to prevent up to 80% of cavities is set to launch in three New Hampshire school districts.
CariedAway NH Concord, an innovative cavity prevention initiative developed by researchers at NYU College of Dentistry (NYU Dentistry), has secured a $1 million, three-year grant from Northeast Delta Dental. The program will be implemented in elementary and middle schools within Concord, Pittsfield, and the Merrimack Valley school district. Utilizing point-of-care technology developed by Massachusetts-based New England Survey Systems (NESS), CariedAway NH Concord aims to create precision treatment plans.
In New Hampshire, one in 20 children entering kindergarten has untreated cavities, escalating to one in four students leaving high school with dental decay. Both in children and adults, untreated dental cavities surpass the prevalence of diabetes and heart disease combined, as reported by a 2022 World Health Organization study.
Untreated dental infections, if not addressed promptly, can result in pain, school absences, and diminished academic and job performance. Introducing cavity prevention programs in schools can help overcome the obstacles that many families encounter in accessing preventive and curative dental care, including financial constraints and the challenge of taking time off work and school.
“Our goal is to measurably improve children’s oral health, quality of life, and school performance,” said Richard Niederman, DMD, professor of epidemiology & health promotion at NYU Dentistry and founder of CariedAway. “With New Hampshire’s pent-up demand for adult dental care overwhelming dentists, CariedAway sets children on a healthy path for their future.”
“We are proud to support a program that has been shown to effectively arrest and prevent tooth decay in children,” explained Tom Raffio, President & CEO, Northeast Delta Dental. “CariedAway not only improves the oral health of children in New Hampshire but also encourages them to develop good oral health routines early in life.”
How school-based dental care works
CariedAway is an evidence-based cavity prevention program that brings care to kids in schools.
“There are no shots, no drilling and no pain,” said Niederman.
Studies led by NYU Dentistry researchers show that CariedAway prevents up to 80% of cavities and keeps 50% of existing cavities from worsening. Moreover, the program measurably improves children’s quality of life and school attendance.
At twice-yearly visits, students whose parents have provided written consent to participate in the program receive an oral health screening, cavity prevention and treatment, and a toothbrush and toothpaste—all from a portable dental chair in their school’s library, auditorium, or a similar space. The cavity prevention measures include decay-stopping silver diamine fluoride, traditional dental sealants, and cavity sealants. Children are also referred to local dentists to establish a permanent dental home or for more complex care.
“Our prevention program amplifies and complements treatment that children can only receive in a dental office,” said Denise Guerrero, operations and compliance manager for CariedAway NH Concord at NYU Dentistryand a CariedAway founder.
Mary Davis, a New Hampshire certified public health dental hygienist and a CariedAway founder, will lead the school-based care as CariedAway NH Concord’s clinical program director. Davis brings deep experience to the initiative, having initiated school-based programs with Lamprey Health Care; Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital; the Concord Dental Sealant Coalition in the Concord, Merrimack Valley, and Pittsfield school systems; and a New Hampshire-wide school sealant program.
Continuing CariedAway in the Granite State
CariedAway was initially implemented in select New Hampshire elementary schools beginning in 2017, supported by a five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health. The program built on the long-standing relationship between the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, the Concord Dental Sealant Coalition, Sullivan County Dental Initiative, and NYU Dentistry.
In 2022, the American Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors named CariedAway’s New Hampshire program as a national model of school-based cavity prevention.
“As one who believes in the tremendous benefits associated with the whole child approach, oral health plays a gigantic role in a student’s well-being,” said Jeff Drouin, principal of Boscawen Elementary School.
The funding from Northeast Delta Dental will enable CariedAway to operate in elementary and middle schools in Concord, Merrimack Valley, and Pittsfield for three years. The funding will also support the integration of a secure electronic health record developed by NESS in collaboration with NYU Dentistry and CariedAway. The iPad-based technology was designed specifically for school-based cavity prevention programs.
“The technology integrates each child’s history and clinical findings to dynamically create a precision prevention and treatment plan for each tooth surface, and provides longitudinal outcome assessment,” said John Roberge, president of NESS.
“We are grateful to Northeast Delta Dental for supporting our integrative technology system to quantitatively improve children’s oral health,” said Davis.
CariedAway NH Concord will begin in schools this month and will be offered to 4,200 students across 13 elementary and middle schools. Parents and guardians at participating schools will begin receiving information about the program in early December, and can sign their children up to participate using the paper or electronic forms provided by schools.
About NYU College of Dentistry
Founded in 1865, New York University College of Dentistry (NYU Dentistry) is the third oldest and the largest dental school in the US, educating nearly 10 percent of the nation’s dentists. NYU Dentistry has a significant global reach with a highly diverse student body.
Visit dental.nyu.edu for more.