Dental School Broadens Oral Health Education for Northern Manhattan Children

April 22, 2014

Columbia’s College of Dental Medicine has joined with the National Dental Association to expand programs to schoolchildren in Upper Manhattan this spring. More than 600 children in three public schools will receive dental education as part of the initiative.

Students in kindergarten through fourth grade will be surveyed about their dental habits and receive oral health education to help them improve their dental care. School visits began April 9 at Amistad Dual Language School.

The U.S. surgeon general cites tooth decay as the single most common chronic disease of childhood in the United States. Five times more children have cavities than have asthma. An estimated 4 to 5 million children have dental problems so severe they have trouble eating, sleeping and learning, leading to a projected 51 million school hours lost each year from some form of oral health problem.

“The relationships CDM has developed with the residents of the Washington Heights, Inwood and Harlem communities of Northern Manhattan, and of the Bronx, are mutually rewarding and central to the College’s mission,” says Christian S. Stohler, dean of the College of Dental Medicine.

The College’s current outreach is based in the Community DentCare program, which was started in 1996 as a network of partnerships with neighborhood schools and community health clinics to provide low-income, underserved and uninsured residents with access to dental care.

“Community DentCare is a tremendous opportunity for our faculty members to share their expertise not only with our neighbors, but with our students,” said Stohler.

—by CUMC News