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Collaborative partnerships help underserved keiki with dental care on Kaua‘i

LIHU‘E — A partnership between the Child and Family Service, the Department of Health, Hoku Smiles, Hawai‘i Dental Services, Dr. Paul Glassman and Na Lei Wili have been holding dental clinics on Kaua‘i during the fall and winter for Kaua‘i women, infants and children, and Head Start program participants.

This initiative is aimed at providing vital dental services to keiki directly in the classroom environment and Kaua‘i WIC offices.

Through a spokesperson for the Kaua‘i Tele-Dentistry Pilot Project, Hawai‘i has one of the highest prevalence of tooth decay in the United States with seven out of every 10 Hawai‘i third grade students being impacted by tooth decay. This is substantially higher than the national average of about 5 out of every 10 students.

“This initiative is not just about treating dental issues,” said Novelyn Hinazumi, director of Kaua‘i programs at CFS. “It’s about empowering our community with the tools and knowledge for a lifetime of healthy smiles.”

To help alleviate the problem, Hoku Smiles, operating as Baird Dental since 1982 in the former Wailua Clubhouse Building in Kapa‘a, implemented the tele-dentistry pilot project through the Virtual Dental Home Delivery of Care model funded by HDS to address the oral health disparities that affect Kaua‘i children. This follows a successful pilot program on Maui.

The project’s primary objective is to provide dental care for the underserved and vulnerable populations, as well as provide oral health awareness, education, and instructions for patients, their families and community site programs.

“Establishing good oral hygiene habits from a young age, and providing early prevention and treatment procedures not only ensures healthy teeth and gums, but also lays the foundation for overall health and well-being,” Glassman said. “Our collaborative effort seeks to address a critical gap in access to dental services among underserved children.”

Glassman, the Associate Dean for Research and Community Engagement at the College of Dental Medicine at California Northstate University in Elk Grove, California, and Professor Emeritus at the University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni, School of Dentistry in San Francisco, has a long career working with special populations in a variety of practice and community settings.

Glassman is a pioneer and has led the national movement to improve oral health using telehealth-connected teams and Virtual Dental Homes. He has been prominent in advocacy efforts on a state and national level for health system reform to improve oral health systems for a wide variety of underserved groups.
Source: The Garden Island

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