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Health trends

Published:Wednesday | June 20, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Great Shape! dental sealant programme

Great Shape! Incorporated, convenors of the world's largest humanitarian dental project, through its continued partnership with the Sandals Foundation, intensified its drive to reduce cavities in Jamaican children by piloting an oral hygiene programme with vendors at the Green Island Primary School recently. This latest development is part of efforts to sustain the organisation's two-year dental sealant programme.

The sealant programme, which was launched in 2010, is a collaborative effort also involving Ministry of Health professionals. Hundreds of children have benefited from the painless procedure of applying fluoride and sealant treatment to the surface of the tooth to block out cavities; and subsequently improve self-esteem, nutrition and save thousands of dollars per child in restorative and urgent care.

With Great Shape! and the Sandals Foundation now planning to introduce its Dental Sealant Programme in other schools after two years at Green Island Primary, vendors are being targeted in their long-term plan of maintaining good oral hygiene in the school. "What we realise is that students consume a lot of sweets daily which significantly adds to tooth decay.

We want to reduce this by minimising their sweet intake so we have met with the vendors and encouraged them to start selling healthier snacks (such as fruit juice instead of bag juice, cheese, popcorn and fresh fruits) to the children. In addition to this, we have asked of them to encourage the children to continue the lunchtime tooth-brushing programme we introduced last November, or at least rinse their mouths after eating the sweets," said Joseph Wright, executive director of Great Shape! Inc.

The Ministry of Health dental nurses will also help to sustain the programme at the school and Great Shape! will assign a liaison to provide continued support.

Nora Bailey, a vendor who has been selling snacks to children at the Green Island Primary for more than 30 years, expressed her excitement and involvement in the project. "The dentists sat with us and explained the role we play in ensuring that the students continue to take good care of their teeth and we will try as much as possible to build on the great work that they have been doing," she said.

Source: Sandals Foundation