Undertaking Preserving Smiles Delivers Obtainable Dental Care to Houston Young children


During the past 20 decades, oral health and fitness expenses have amplified 30 percent, placing obtain to dental treatment out of achieve for susceptible teams throughout the US. Nevertheless, the Houston Overall health Department’s Project Saving Smiles (HHD/PSS) has been producing progress in catering to Houston’s underserved communities. The general public-non-public partnership targets at-possibility next-graders in elementary educational facilities in the Houston place that have 50 percent or more college students enrolled in the Free and Reduced Lunch Plan. 

“Many of the clients we provide have not been to the dentist prior to or have not been in years,” suggests Dr. Justine Jimenez, HHD’s senior community overall health dentist at PSS. “A child happy of their smile makes a distinction in how they have themselves, and it demonstrates in their schoolwork and in their every day things to do. I am pretty proud to say that this undertaking from Houston is location an instance for oral overall health prevention on a national scale.” 

The Houston native has been the functions main of PSS for the past 3 years. She thorough that this is the work she manifested she understood that she would perform for the firm just one day.

“I am a Houstonian. My greatest target, after all the training and training that I done, was usually to appear back home to serve the community that I came from and grew up in,” Jimenez suggests. “I continue to lead this job for the reason that I imagine in the worth of setting a excellent instance as a youthful, minority woman medical professional and chief in my industry.”

Challenge Conserving Smiles filled the have to have for greater access to dental care in Harris County’s underserved neighborhoods and, considering the fact that its inception in 2008, has served much more than 74,000 second-quality students. The Houston Wellbeing Section discovered that kids who suffer from oral wellness difficulties tend to be far more distracted from their schoolwork and miss out on several days from school. In accordance to the 2001 Dental Desires Evaluation done in Harris County, 45.9 percent of next-graders had untreated tooth decay. And apparently enough, the 2021 Surgeon General’s Report displays that a lot more than 51 million college hrs are dropped just about every 12 months in the US as a consequence of dental-linked disease. HHD suggests the value of companies delivered by means of PSS has been estimated at $9.7 million given that its launch. 

The program has partnerships with several community and non-public organizations, together with the Houston Overall health Basis, the College of Texas University of Dentistry, Larger Houston Dental Society, and 13 faculty districts in the Houston location. Jimenez is presently on the board of directors for the Texas Oral Wellbeing Coalition and is the former chair of oral overall health for the Texas Public Health Association.

“My target is to lower the level of dental cavities in our schoolchildren in Houston so that they can go to university and understand and maybe become the subsequent Elon Musk,” Jimenez says. “Reducing the incidence of dental caries is not unachievable. That is the whole premise of oral overall health avoidance, which this plan is designed on.”

Appear September, the HHD will begin its assessment with educational institutions that participate in the project year right after yr, as nicely as extend its mission to college districts that have 50 per cent or a lot more of students enrolled in the No cost and Reduced Lunch Program. 

“If for any rationale I experienced any section in aiding with that by preventing considerable dental challenges and ache, then that is when I sense that I have produced it ‘to the stars,’” says Jimenez. “And that, for me, makes me thrilled to be alive.”

To uncover out if your faculty is a participant in PSS, get in touch with the school liaison at (832) 393-4877. To study more about the plan, go to houstonhealth.org.