Dental Tribune USA
Yocelyn Arevalo, RDH, educates Jana, a Viscardi School student, during Project Accessible Oral Health’s inaugural ‘Take a Dental Health Day — Screening and Education for the Disability Community’ event on Friday, Oct. 26, at The Viscardi Center’s Albertson, N.Y., campus. More than 200 children, teens and adults with disabilities were educated about the importance of oral healthcare and its impact on overall health. (Photo: The Viscardi Center)

Viscardi Center’s ‘Take a Dental Health Day’ helps those with disabilities

By Dental Tribune USA
November 02, 2018

ALBERTSON, N.Y., USA: The Viscardi Center’s Project Accessible Oral Health Initiative hosted its first “Take a Dental Health Day — Screening and Education for the Disability Community” event recently, where more than 75 dentists, dental residents, dental students and volunteers were able to successfully educate and treat more than 200 children, adolescents and adults with disabilities at the center’s Albertson campus.

The event, which was held Friday, Oct. 26, was hosted in conjunction with the Nassau County Dental Society. It was an effort to raise awareness about the No. 1 healthcare crisis in the disability community today: equal access to culturally competent oral healthcare.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, local and state legislators, and Colgate, Henry Schein Inc. and DMG America representatives were in attendance to help raise awareness of the disability community’s oral healthcare crisis.

In 2017, Henry Schein joined The Viscardi Center to create Project Accessible Oral Health, an international public-private partnership to raise awareness of, and address the significant need for, increased oral health care for people with disabilities, thus improving their overall health and quality of life.

“We at Henry Schein have long understood that oral health and overall health are deeply connected, and Project Accessible Oral Health is a momentous step toward a public health framework that offers people with disabilities greater access to quality oral health care and a better quality of life,” the company said in a press release.

“We are pleased to stand with The Viscardi Center, NYU College of Dentistry, Shalva Children’s Center, and all of our partners and supporters in this shared mission to help health happen for the disabilities community,” the company said.

For the “Take a Dental Health Day” event, Henry Schein donated gowns, face masks, gloves, hand gel sanitizer, flouride varnish, tongue depressors, toothpaste, toothbrush, floss and more, as part of Henry Schein Cares, the company’s global corporate responsibility program.

Said John D. Kemp, president & CEO of The Viscardi Center and chairman, Project Accessible Oral Health, “Our new ‘Take a Dental Health Day’ was the first time in the center’s 65-year history that it hosted an oral-healthcare-focused event. Many of the students and individuals screened have not been able to access, afford or experience appropriate dental care, or find a consistent, accessible dental home where a potentially critical dental issue could be caught early.”

“We couldn't be more proud to create and launch this proactive initiative,” Kemp said. “Based on its success, we hope to work with our partners to replicate ‘Take a Dental Health Day’ across the country.”

“Project Accessible Oral Health is proud that its unique ‘Take a Dental Health Day’ event is able to effectively fulfill all three pillars of our organization’s mission,” said Barbie Vartanian, executive director of Project Accessible Oral Health. “Through this event we are able to educate the patient, caregiver and public about best practice in oral hygiene and the critical need for access to culturally competent oral healthcare providers for those with disabilities. It is also an opportunity for lawmakers to learn about policy gaps and how we can work together to close those gaps. Finally, we are able to leverage our marketing capacity to raise awareness and expand our network of stakeholders who share our passion to make change happen.”

The program featured varnish applications, an interactive, customized education component including puppets and videos, dental report cards highlighting dental issues, much-needed help in finding an appropriate dental home, if needed, and goody bags to help reinforce good dental health in the home.

Unequal access to oral healthcare is the No. 1 unmet health need for the 57 million people with disabilities in America. This injustice results in lack of preventative care leading to higher costs and negative impact to overall health.

Since its inception in 2017, The Viscardi Center’s Project Accessible Oral Health initiative has worked together with its global network of stakeholders to raise awareness and make change happen through an aggressive schedule of public speaking engagements and its role as a connector of legislators and insurance companies to consider this crisis and how they can help, so that one day all people with disabilities have equal access to oral healthcare as the non-disabled. More information is available online, at ProjectAccessibleOralHealth.org.

(Source: The Viscardi Center)

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