A University of British Columbia (UBC) program that addresses the oral health needs of students at risk for oral health neglect is expanding. Since 2011, general practice residents and students from UBC’s faculty of dentistry have run a weekly clinic at Florence Nightingale Elementary School that provides the school’s 250 children with dental services. Based on the success of the program, which operates in collaboration with the Vancouver School Board, Vancouver Coastal Health Authority and Mount Pleasant Community Centre, the clinic will soon open its doors to students from other east side schools.
According to Dr. Christopher Zed, associate dean, strategic and external affairs at UBC, the program addresses an unmet need in the community. “Most of the children at Florence Nightingale don’t usually see a dentist and about 30% of them experience pain from tooth decay and oral disease,” says Dr. Zed. “By providing oral health treatment and education, we hope to reduce absenteeism, sleep deprivation and improve classroom attentiveness due to lack of oral pain.”
Dr. Zed ultimately hopes to find funding and volunteers to run the program full time, to enable the program to offer services to more students at inner city schools.