Dental sealant project aims to help kids focus in the classroom by reducing tooth decay

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Going back to school is an exciting time for students, but not so much for those who suffer from tooth pain.

“Anybody knows that if your mouth hurts, that’s what you’re focused on. You’re not focused on what the teacher’s teaching you,” said Onslow County Schools Head Nurse Lanell Perkins.

Many children have tooth decay that causes pain, affects their health, and causes them to lose time at school.

That’s why the North Carolina Department of Public Health is providing a free dental sealant project for schools across the state.

For Northwoods Elementary, in Jacksonville, all students in grades kindergarten through fifth grade were screened by a state dentist.

During that screening, about three dozen students were found to have no sealants on their teeth. Dental hygienists said sealants are necessary to prevent tooth decay.

“Children that need sealants, we do that right here,” said Bonnie Johnson, a public health dental hygienist. “We’ve seen 39 children this week which has been great.”

The state places teams of dental hygienists in different regions. They place dental sealants on students teeth in schools identified using free and reduced school lunch numbers.

One student said the process was a piece of cake.

“They shined a little mirror in there, one of them had a blue light in there,….and I never got dental sealants before so I was like ‘Oh! this is what it’s like?!’,” said Krystyna Gordon, a third grader at Northwoods Elementary.

The Onslow County Schools head nurse said dental clinics like this one are important for kids to not only stay focused in the classroom, but also maintain a healthy lifestyle.

“Some of these kids, this is their very first time ever seeing a dentist or having their teeth worked on,” said Perkins.

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