By Wendy Osher
An oral health program on Maui that helps native Hawaiian mothers and children is the recipient of a $100,000 grant from the HMSA Foundation.
The program at the University of Hawai’i Maui College will utilize the funds to provide educational sessions and oral health screenings in the community.
At the same time, the program will continue to provide an opportunity for UHMC students to get hands-on service-learning experience in the field of oral health.
The “Improving Oral Health for Native Hawaiian Prenatal Mothers and Children” program is offered in collaboration between UHMC, Hui No Ke Ola Pono, and Maui schools.
The program provides direct outreach at Maui schools, churches, and health fairs, to 3rd and 7th grade students, and women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
Through this outreach, women and children receive oral health and blood pressure screenings and recommended preventative dental care. Services provided include dental cleanings, sealants, fluoride varnish, and referral for further treatment when necessary.
Allied Health Department Chair at UH Maui College Nancy Johnson said, “It is well documented that early identification and treatment of oral health disease is a cost effective way to reduce school absences, emergency room visits, diseases like diabetes and hypertension, and the tragedy of preterm births.”
According to Johnson, the program will screen hundreds of children and approximately 50 prenatal women.
“The vast majority of individuals do not realize they have dental disease and the potential consequences. When dental needs are identified during the screening, the women and children will be referred for care,” said Johnson.
Mark Forman, executive administrator of the HMSA Foundation said, “Through this program, students from the UH Maui College will be providing a service while helping our keiki develop good habits to last a lifetime.”