Caribou School uses a local donation to provide dental care to students

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CARIBOU, Maine – A donation from a local clinic will propel the Caribou Community School into a unique position as one of at least two schools in Maine providing dental services to students.

St. Apollonia Dental Clinic in Presque Isle donated a dental chair to the school in hopes of protecting children from the negative effects of inadequate preventive oral care.

St. Apollonia General Manager Norma Desjardins visited the RSU 39 School Board meeting on April 28 to stress the importance of good dental maintenance. She told the story of Deamonte Driver, a 12-year-old boy who died of an untreated abscess in 2007.

“We don’t like to talk about people who die because their teeth are not taken care of, but it is a consequence that can happen, and that is why prevention is so important,” he said. she declared.

RSU 39 (Caribou and Stockholm) Superintendent Tim Doak said on May 3 that specific details regarding when of care and who provides care were not yet confirmed, but the district wants to add dental screenings and preventive care is on the list of health services already available within the Caribou school system. Ideally, he hopes to start dental service for PreK-8 students this fall.

Doak said he was inspired to start providing dental care a few years ago after visiting Brewer Middle School, a K-8 facility, and seeing how his dental chair was used to help students maintain their oral hygiene. He and the administrators had been discussing the option for some time.

“In today’s world it is quite important to make sure that dental care is taken care of as it could lead to other health issues later in life,” he said. .

Care at Brewer is focused on early prevention and detection of oral health problems, he said. For major problems, they recommend a student to a dentist. They don’t drill or instill novocaine, Doak said, which will be similar to what the Caribou community school will eventually offer.

And like at Brewer, Doak said services at Caribou would be covered by student MaineCare, providing care for many students who might otherwise not have access to regular appointments.

Desjardins and her husband purchased the chair through a mobile unit in central Maine, which has been downsized due to COVID-19 restrictions. The “lightly used” chair, purchased for around $ 11,000, came with basic equipment but did not yet have an air and vacuum system. These additions are part of the long term goals of the clinic and the school.

“It’s a beautiful chair, and we’re going to be able to do very good screenings there, as well as evaluations and preventive care,” said Desjardins.

The initial goals are dental screenings, fluoride varnish applications and smoking prevention tips, then the addition of sealant applications and, in the long term, school cleanings, all aimed at reducing the burden on children. families facing barriers to dental care.

“So, in working with families, one of the great things that we find – and this is verified by ACAP – is that transportation is a big problem,” Desjardins told the school board. “Either the family doesn’t have a car, or has an unreliable car, or doesn’t have the money for gasoline for the car, or wakes up one morning and the car doesn’t start, and they don’t have no other family member to call to see if they can bring the child to the appointment.

“If we can come and see them at school, we will be able to provide more preventive services, and hopefully that will mean less oral disease in the long run,” she said.

The aim is to focus on students without regular access to dental care, or who need help.

“It’s wonderful to me because we’ve always wanted this school to have a dental chair,” Doak said. “It’s very lucky that this is happening with the help of the St. Apollonia Partnership, and I feel good about it for the school district.”

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