Children's Access to Dental Care

Posted on April 7, 2013 by Submitted

I’ve been addressing children’s health issues for three years as a member of the Sonoma County Maternal, Child & Adolescent Health Advisory Board. I’m writing to point out that there has been a coordinated effort in Sonoma County to improve children’s access to dental care. The fluoride debate may give one the inaccurate impression that the health care community hasn’t been diligently working on improving children’s dental care.

In January 2011, leading local health care organizations convened the Sonoma County Task Force on Oral Health, which brought together 25 leaders from the medical and dental communities, public health officials and advocates for children, seniors and people with disabilities to create a strategic roadmap to improve oral health care for Sonoma County’s low-income children and adults.

In response to the task forces’ recommendations, the First 5 Sonoma County Commission recently awarded grants to three health centers to expand or create new dental clinics. This will increase dental care capacity for low-income children by more than 50 percent. One of the grant recipients is the St. Joseph’s Health mobile dental clinic, which serves Sonoma Valley children at La Luz and is expanding from two to three dental chairs. Additionally, the Sonoma Valley Community Health Center plans to add a six-chair dental clinic when its new facility is built. Furthermore, to help prevent dental decay in low-income children, the county’s WIC clinics have expanded dental sealant and fluoride varnish services.

When the fluoride issue comes back to the Board of Supervisors next year, Susan Gorin will need to decide whether she thinks adding fluoride to our water is beneficial. That decision should be based on science and costs, not on the notion that local health care organizations haven’t been trying everything financially feasible to improve access to dental care.
Gina Cuclis
Boyes Hot Springs