DENTAL CARING: 5 Prescott dentists donate services for 31 children
While Hunter played a videogame Friday morning in a Prescott dentist's office, the third-grader said having sealant put on his molars "was pretty fast" and was nothing to be nervous about.
Malia, another third-grader, agreed, saying everyone at dentist Dr. Bobby Raber's office was "pretty nice" and explained everything to her before the procedure. Malia held up a note the dentist sent home to her parents as well as a bag containing a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and other items.
On Friday, five local dentists, including Raber and Dr. Paul Wulff, sealed 31 children's first molars at no charge after their parents signed them up for the program, said retired dentist Dr. Ron Moore.
"It's such a valuable preventive program," said Dr. Leon Wachtel, whose office provided sealant for five students from Lincoln and Taylor Hicks elementary schools. "If they don't have sealant, 90 percent get decay in those teeth. It's an easy, painless, and noninvasive procedure."
Second- and third-grade students in the Prescott Unified School District brought home a flyer about the free procedure for low-income, uninsured, or underinsured children in November, and parents signed up their children for the program, Moore said.
"There are a lot of kids in families without dental insurance and that shouldn't prevent them from receiving this procedure or good dental care," said Raber, whose office treated 18 students from Abia Judd Elementary School.
Area dentists normally charge about $43 to seal a tooth, so sealing all four first molars can run about $172, Moore said.
Parent Joshua Thornbury said he thought the program was a great idea and said the kids all seemed to be having a great time getting to do this together.
"We really appreciate (the dentists) reaching out to families who need it," Thornbury said.
Sealant protects the grooved and pitted surfaces of teeth, especially on back teeth such as molars, which are hard to clean even if children brush and floss carefully, Moore said.
"We sealed their first molars that come in when they're about 6 years old," said Dr. Bob Carlisi. "It's important, because those teeth are in the mouth the longest."
Carlisi and his dental assistants Julie Cirolello and Helen Taylor saw eight students from Miller Valley Elementary School, who were accompanied by their principal, Jeff Lane.
"I think it's one of the best things you can do for kids as a preventive service," said Dr. Paul Hicks, who treated five children from Washington Traditional School. "Most of the work I do is on the teeth of adults who had fillings as kids. If we can prevent that by sealing kids' molars, that's great."
Most parents, once they learn about the procedure, will get the sealant for their children's teeth, Raber said.
"A study found that children who had sealant applied to their teeth were 72 to 74 percent less likely to get a cavity in high school," Raber said.
Hicks, Wulf, Wachtel, Moore, Carlisi, and Raber, who donated their time and services, said they hope to help more children the next time they offer this service.
"The whole point of dentistry is preventive care - brushing, flossing and doing yearly checkups - and applying sealants is part of that," Carlisi said.
Carlisi pointed out that children's second molars come in when they are about 12 to 13 years old, and he encourages parents to "bring children in at that time to get those teeth sealed as well."