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“Heroes” Saluted as MA Brushes Up for Children’s Dental Health Month

February 2, 2009

Boston, MA – Massachusetts is brushing up for Children's Dental Health Month, with "Oral Health Heroes" being recognized today at the State House by the Watch Your Mouth Coalition. State Representative John Scibak championed the newly-signed Omnibus Oral Health bill that focuses on reducing tooth cavities in children. He calls dental decay a childhood disease that can be prevented, or greatly reduced, with dental screenings and treatment. He compares the ability to stop cavities to successes in battling other common childhood diseases that have been largely eliminated.

"I think we can do the same thing by providing preventative treatments and dental exams, and address the issue of dental decay early."

Partners for a Healthier Community executive director Frank Robinson points out that while some people think baby teeth don't need special care, research has shown that poor oral health can follow children throughout their lives and be linked to other problems.

"If you don't treat the oral health problem, you're very likely to find aggravated diabetes, and results as serious as death."

State Senator Harriette Chandler was also a champion of the Omnibus Oral Health She says the new state law will create a higher level of oral health care by clearing the way for dental hygienists to take care of preventive treatment in schools and clinics.

"The western part of our state does not have the same kind of access that the eastern part of the state has. We have to find a way to give children preventive treatment they need."

The four "Oral Health Heroes" receiving honors include: Representative William “Smitty” Pignatelli, Senate President These Murray, and Dr. Joel Pearlman at Tufts Dental Facilities.

A state report last year found more than 40 percent of Commonwealth third-graders had already experienced dental decay. Watch Your Mouth is a project of Health Care for All.

Deborah Smith/Deb Courson, Public News Service - MA