BROWARD COUNTY – The Florida Department of Health in Broward County has launched another free dental service for children – fluoride treatment to prevent cavities.
Hygienists from DOH-Broward are offering a free dental exam and tooth-strengthening fluoride varnish to clients of the Department’s Women Infants & Children family nutrition program.
Last year, the Department began providing free dental sealant treatment to students at Broward County elementary and middle schools. More than 25,000 received sealants during the past school year.
The fluoride varnish is a tasty-flavored gel that is gently brushed onto a child’s teeth to soak in for several hours or overnight. Studies show the varnish can strengthen tooth enamel and help prevent cavities.
So far, the service is being offered at WIC offices in Lauderdale Lakes and Hollywood, but will be expanded later this year to the five other WIC offices – two in Fort Lauderdale, in Pompano Beach, Coral Springs and Pembroke Pines.
The treatment will be offered to kids on hand for the family’s normal WIC visit, so no appointments are necessary.
“For parents, it’s like killing two birds with one stone,” says Dr. Paula Thaqi, Director of DOH-Broward. “It’s like going for a dental appointment at the same time you are at WIC.”
The treatment is available for kids ages 1 to 20, and takes just a few minutes. Hygienists give the children an exam, a toothbrush, toothpaste and floss, and explain the proper way to care for their teeth.
Then they paint on the varnish, which comes in caramel, mint and fruit flavors. All children who are seen are offered a free or low-cost appointment at DOH-Broward dental practice offices. There, they can see a dentist for more extensive dental care.
The fluoride service was well received during a one-week study in May. Since, then about 3,000 children have been treated.
“Parents loved it,” says DOH-Broward Dental Administrator Scott Glincher. When fully running, Broward’s dental varnish program is expected to become the largest in the state.