“Keep the North Country Smiling” is expanding its efforts to treat and prevent dental diseases in young children and low-income families regionally.
“Keep the North Country Smiling” began in March of 2014 as a pilot program in Jefferson County with four objectives: provide more fluoride varnishing for children through primary care, increase tooth brushing in youngsters, increase and maintain community water fluoridation and provide public outreach and education.
After over two years of work in Jefferson County, a plan is now being developed to expand these goals to St. Lawrence, Oswego and Lewis counties.
Jefferson County was chosen to pilot this program because of a strong history of support for community health and a need to improve the oral health of its population. The need is served through programs including rural dental care and home visits, school-based clinics and access to fluoride varnish treatments through primary care.
The Jefferson County Public Health Service led the pilot program and partnered with local dentists, doctors, and clinics, including the North Country Family Health Clinic. North Country, which provides full dental care at its main clinic, also provides preventive care and cleaning to schools in five districts in Jefferson and Lewis Counties at no out of pocket expense to parents.
As a part of the “Smiling” initiative, North Country has started providing fluoride varnish to patients under 3 years of age when they come in for primary care.
According to Director of Marketing Elaine P. Garvey, the clinic supports fluoride treatments and community water fluoridation to prevent early childhood caries (or cavities,) which is the most prevalent children’s disease in New York State.
“Fluoride is naturally present in groundwater… Community water fluoridation accomplishes several key things,” said Stephen A. Jennings, public health planner for the Jefferson County Public Health Service. “It prevents tooth decay in children, and protects people from all ages against cavities. It saves considerable money in dental care, as the average lifetime costs per person to fluoridate the water supply is less than the cost of one dental filling.”
Sackets Harbor recently applied for a grant to implement a community water fluoridation system. Watertown, which already has a fluoridation system in place, has also applied for a grant to update and maintain its system. In Jefferson County, 74 percent of communities have access to fluoridated water.
While Medicaid covers dental and fluoride varnish treatments, many individuals and families have private insurance plans that don’t cover dental or fluoride varnishes. Without individual dental plans through Medicaid to supplement private insurance, this gap in coverage has been one the biggest hurdles for the initiative. Several local clinics have begun billing on a sliding scale when possible.
Mr. Jennings said the next steps to expand the initiative to other north country counties begin with implementing a work plan, finding funding, increasing community water fluoridation, measuring impact and providing those in need with access to oral health care.
Note from Fluoride Action Network: Jefferson, Lewis, Oswego, and St. Lawrence counties are all very rural areas. The following information on the fluoridated areas comes from the CDC’s My Water’s Fluoride. Note the very high F levels in 2 communities in Lewis county, the high level in two communities in Jefferson, and one in St. Lawrence County.
Population of County: 119,504 (2013)
Population fluoridated: 93,542
Population fluoridated – City
1,000 – Adams Center
2,000 – Adams Village
3,600 – Carthage Village
400 – Champion WD #1
2,700 – Champion WD #4
223 – Floral Estates
34,000 – Fort Drum, a military base.
172 – Heather Acres Apartment
700 – Henderson Town WD#1
615 – Hounsfield #2
250 – Hounsfield WD 3
360 – Hounsfield WD 5
750 – Lafargeville (T. Orleans) Ground water F level is 1.60 mg/L*
1,140 – Leray Town WD #1
6,000 – Leray Town WD # 2&4
315 – Northwoods Estates – Ground water F level is 0.80 mg/L
150 – Pamelia Town WD # 2
1,000 – Pamelia Town WD 5
1,800 – Philadelphia Village
2,200 – Sacketts Harbor Village
195 – Southside Water Inc.
950 – Theresa Village
27,861 – Watertown City
1,271 – Watertown Correctional Facility
600 – Watertown WD 1&2
750 – Watertown WD 3&4
100 – Watertown WD 3
2,200 – West Carthage Village
240 – Wilna (T) WD #1
Population of County: 27,149 (2013)
Population fluoridated: None
Population Over-fluoridated: 630
*According to CDC:
“What does this mean?
“This water system has fluoride from natural sources, but at a level higher than what is needed for the prevention of tooth decay. Children aged 8 years and younger—whose adult teeth are still forming—may have an increased chance of developing dental fluorosis, which is usually just a minor change in the appearance of the tooth enamel.”
Population of County: 121,165 (2013)
Population fluoridated: 60,356
Population – City
150 – Ainslee Drive WD
672 – Big Bay WD
455 – Caudhdenoy WD
1,670 – Central Square Village
795 – Fort Brewerton WD
16,600 – Fulton City
430 – Granby Town WD #3
2,000 – Hannibal Town WD #2
1,589 – Minetto Service Area
875 – New Haven Town WD
29,400 – Oswego City
4,182 – Oswego Town WD
487 – Rt 11 Fuller Road
425 – Scriba TWP-Hall Rd WD
297 – Seneca Hill Water District
226 – Seneca Hill WD
103 – Volney Town WD
St. Lawrence County
Population of County: 111,963 (2013)
Population fluoridated: 47,171
120 – Academy @ Ivy Ridge. Ground Water F level: 0.30 mg/L*
100 – Dennison Road Water District
2,000 – East Louisville Water District.
165 – Gouverneur East Side Water District
4,263 – Gouverneur Village
165 – Gouverneur West Side Water District
180 – Helena Water District
600 – K T Powers
15,362 – Massena Village
1,912 – Massena Water Districts
1,685 – Norwood Village
11,128 – Ogdensburg City
9,425 – Potsdam Village
66 – Stonington Acres. Ground Water F level: 1.28 mg/L