CWRU takes on tooth decay


Courtesy Susan Griffith

CWRU pediatric dental staff offered free dental services to Cleveland preschoolers.

Miriam Ridge, Staff Reporter

Case Western Reserve University pediatric dental staff provided free dental care to the preschoolers of the Bingham Early Learning Center on Oct. 10.

They gave the children a dental exam, followed by a cleaning, varnish, and fluoride treatment. Parents were given a report card informing them of their child’s dental health status: either no dental needs, minor dental needs or severe dental needs.

The event was one of many federally funded Head Start program preventative initiatives. Head Start is a national program that helps provide education, nutrition, health and social services to preschoolers.

Cleveland has one of the highest rates of untreated tooth decay in the country, and it is the most common unmet health issue for children in Ohio. Head Start programs treat between two and three thousand children annually in the greater Cleveland area. Since the program began visits to Head Start in 2007, CWRU pediatric dental staff have treated 23,544 children and provided $3 million in preventative care services.

“Six out of ten children are fine,” said Gerald Ferretti, the program director of Pediatric Dentistry at CWRU. “But four out of ten need some dental care or require an operation.”

The program also teaches parents what pediatric dentists do, and why dental health is important.

Offering this care gives CWRU pediatric dental staff an opportunity to gain essential experience and training.

“The program is very user friendly,” said Ferretti. “It provides the community with an important service.”