In honor of National Children's Dental Health Month, celebrated every February, the American Dental Association recently presented the ACTION dental program, an initiative of CHA and the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, with the Bud Tarrson Dental School Student Community Leadership Award. The award recognizes dental school student programs that demonstrate excellence in providing services to underserved populations within the U.S.
ACTION (Action for Children and Teens in Oral Health Need) is a once-monthly Saturday clinic that offers pediatric dental care at the CHA Windsor Street Health Center. ACTION is both a community service and a learning opportunity for students at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine. Each Saturday, students serve as dental providers, assistants, managers and organizers, aided by support from CHA's front desk staff, a dental assistant, and an attending dentist.
Since its inception in 2009, 1147 individual appointments have been offered to Cambridge children, many of whom would not receive dental care if not for the program. Services rendered include exams, cleanings, fillings, extractions, and crowns. The unique opportunity to serve as a primary care provider for children is a large part of ACTION's popularity with the student body, as the program boasts an 85% participation rate among all dental school classes.
Dental decay is the most common chronic childhood disease in the U.S., and developing good oral health habits early can help parents give their children a lifetime of healthy teeth. Visit the Cambridge Public Health Department’s website to learn more about its Healthy Smiles school-based dental screening program, get oral health tips, and see a list of local dentists who care for children.
Photo courtesy of the Cambridge Public Health Department