First 5 of Kern helping one non-profit keep local smiles bright and healthy

By Christina Lopez | christinalopez@kget.com

Published 10/05 2015 06:43AM

Updated 10/05 2015 10:47AM

Dental hygiene plays a big role in a child's development and overall health, but often times can be overlooked. 

One county program is seeing success by asking its youngest patients to open wide. First 5 of Kern is helping one non-profit keep local smiles bright and healthy. 

For the last 16 years, Kern County children's dental health network has given kids under 5 a clean bill of health when it comes to dental hygiene. 

Funded through First 5 of Kern, this non-profit visits schools in the most under-served areas of Kern County. Dental hygienists check for signs of plaque and tooth decay. 

They hope they're continued success is just what the doctor ordered. 

Since 2000, First 5 of Kern has funded the Kern County Children's Dental Health Network in providing dental screenings through their mobile dental clinics. 

To date, their clinics have serviced 45,000 children through the county, mostly visiting schools in underserved areas, including Wasco and Lamont. 

On Friday, Albany Park School in Delano received a visit from the clinic with hygienists from Taft College's dental hygiene program. 

According to the data from the Kern County Children's Dental Health Network, hygienists saw 57 percent of children with decaying teeth. Today, that number is just under 30 percent. 

It gives hygienists hope that the future of these kids' smiles are bright. 

So far, that goal is getting through to even the youngest of patients. 

The network doesn't rely on referrals through word of mouth, Instead, they have applications on their website for schools to fill out and send back. Next, the network will determine which schools receive services based on geography and tooth decay rates. 

Kern County Children's Dental Network hopes to keep the foot traffic moving forward through their clinics and continue counting on their efforts for brighter, healthier grins. 

To find out more about the Children's Dental Health Network or how your school can apply to have a mobile clinic visit your classroom, visit http://kern.org/kccdhn/.http://kern.org/kccdhn or call 661-377-0322.

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