Dental Public Health Surveillance for Children

Posted on Feb 11, 2015 in Ola Lokahi

The Hawaii Department of Health is launching the Hawaii Smiles program for third graders in 64 public and charter elementary schools across Hawaii to collect representative data on the status of oral health of children in the state. More than 2,000 children across the state will have the opportunity to receive a free, one-minute dental screening this school year. The program is voluntary, and parents and guardians will be informed of the screening results and whether their child requires urgent dental care.

Improving Oral Health in Our State

Until recently, Hawaii did not have an ongoing, routine surveillance system to assess the oral health of its residents and did not have a dental public health program within the Hawaii Department of Health. Hawaii has received a failing grade of “F” in three recent oral health report cards published by The Pew Center on the States, a division of The Pew Charitable Trusts. The Hawaii Smiles Program is a critical first step to address these issues and ensure better oral health outcomes for Hawaii in the future.

A Collaborative Effort

The Hawaii Smiles project is a unique public-private involving the Department of Health, Department of Education, Hawaii Dental Service Foundation, and the Hawaii Primary Care Association. Dental professionals from the Hawaii Dental Association, the Hawaii Dental Hygiene Association, and the Lutheran Medical Center Pediatric Dental Residency Program will be performing the dental screenings. Many community volunteers, including the Hawaii Medical Service Corps, provided additional assistance for this program.

Funding for the project was provided by three federal grants and a grant from the Hawaii Dental Service Foundation.

HDS Foundation - Hawaii Smiles Check Presentation - 2.22.2015