Improving Oral Health – Letter to the Editor, Valley News 2/4/12

To the Editor:

In response to “Sucrose is Bad for the Teeth” letter, COHI (the
Community Oral Health Initiative) invites the writer and others to
join its efforts to improve oral health of children, families and
adults in the Upper Valley. COHI, a group of Upper Valley residents
who recognize the importance of oral health in their own work, draws
upon the knowledge of practicing dentists, directors of local health
foundations and community health workers to discuss the most pressing
oral health access and advocacy issues currently facing their
communities.

Two programs worth noting in our community that address children’s
oral health are Upper Valley Smiles and Upper Valley HEAL. Upper
Valley Smiles, a school-based program of Alice Peck Day Memorial
Hospital, provides oral health education, screenings, and preventive
services (fluoride varnish and sealants) for students in Lebanon,
Enfield, Canaan, White River and Newport elementary schools. With
financial support from the DHMC Dept. of Community Health Improvement
and the Boyle Fund at the VT Community Foundation, APD’s Upper Valley
Smiles dental hygienist also provides oral health education,
screenings and preventive services for young children at the Lebanon
and Hartford WIC clinics. Upper Valley HEAL (Healthy Eating Active
Living), hosted by the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth, is working
with numerous early care centers to limit fruit drinks; assisting
schools, including the Mascoma District, to significantly limit the
availability of sugar-sweetened juice drinks offered in their schools,
and partnering with several regional recreation departments and
after-school programs to shape policies and practices that promote
water and low-fat milk, while limiting children’s access to
sugar-added beverages. Upper Valley HEAL hopes to have 50-100
regional organizations “signed-on” as partners in this effort during
2012.

COHI welcomes members of the community to join its efforts. For more
information, please go to www.uvoralhealth.org or call Nancy DuMont,
APD Community Health, at 603-443-9548.

Toni LaMonica, Co-Chair of COHI
Hanover, NH

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