ST. GEORGE’S, GRENADA, FRIDAY, JANUARY 28, 2010: A total of 26,000 Grenadian students will benefit from a dental program dubbed “Smile Grenada.’’
The School Dental Health program is set to be commissioned on February 21 at pre-primary, primary and secondary schools throughout Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.
The project management team is made up of Grenadian health officials and dental health experts and educators from the School of Dentistry at New York University (NYU) in the United States.
U.S. members of the team met Thursday, January 27, at a closed-door meeting with senior and middle public health managers and representatives of the Ministry of Education.
Dr. Stuart Hirsch, Vice Dean at NYU School of Dentistry, said he is heartened by the level of commitment and dedication demonstrated by the Minster for Health, Sen. Ann Peters, and other Grenada officials to the program, which will be implemented over a three-year period. It will include three visits per year.
Dr. Hirsch explained that about two years ago, NYU received an invitation from Minister Peters to consider undertaking a program that can improve the health status of Grenadian children.
“We felt it was a very good initiative and it was fully supported by Grenadians residing in New York. From that moment we decided that we would undertake two programs,” he said.
In 2010, an NYU dental team visited Grenada and conducted a dental health clinic in Tivoli, attending to more than 1000 people in one week. About 1100 children were also screened as part of a needs’ assessment survey.
“The needs of the children were great and we decided that we would return to make a positive and dramatic impact on the health of the children that focuses on preventative health,’’ Dr. Hirsch.
He hopes that regular brushing and tooth-cleaning habits, which form part of proper dental hygiene, will be cultivated and sustained by the students and schools, long after the project is completed.
Following Thursday’s meeting, more than 15 public health nurses, dentists, dental assistants and dental auxiliary support staff participated in a workshop. It focused on proper dental techniques; use of dental fluorides; and the use and application of the new dental sealants that will be exclusively utilized in the project to protect the biting surface of the tooth.
The participants were also given an overview of the data collected in last year’s dental survey.
The project is expected to reduce the level of tooth decay and prevent the onset of decay by about 70% within the next two to three years, said Professor Mark Wolff of NYU.
Under a partnership with Colgate and G.C. America (a company that manufactures dental products), a shipment of 75,000 tooth brushes and toothpaste products, as well as educational material, will be brought into Grenada for the duration of the program, Professor Wolff said.
Professor Wolff demonstrates the application of the sealant on Dr. Hirsch
Professor Wolff during one of his Presentation with Public Health Officials at the workshop on January 27, 2011.