The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest News

February 23, 2012

Rockefeller gets up-close look at kids’ dental health

BECKLEY — As a part of National Children’s Dental Health Month, U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., visited Beckley Wednesday to view a free children’s dental screening and host a roundtable discussion about children’s dental health.

Preschool students from Cranberry-Prosperity and Stratton elementary schools met with Rockefeller at Dr. Michael Fizer’s dental office to learn about taking care of their teeth.

Rockefeller told the children to call him “Jay” and asked them how many brush their teeth and how many times per day.

Several of the children were selected for a free dental screening and Rockefeller was invited back to see Dr. Fizer in action.

While some were receiving their dental screenings, the other kids learned about oral hygiene from dental assistants, Miss Carol and Miss Joanie.

They demonstrated how to brush in a circular motion and the proper way to floss.

Rockefeller then joined a group of dentists, school nurses, outreach workers and non-profit organization members at the Academy of Careers and Technology for a roundtable discussion about children’s dental health care.

A slideshow played in the background, showing pictures of children smiling, along with some startling facts.

“Dental disease is the most common chronic disease of childhood, affecting 60 percent of children ages 5-17,” according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Rockefeller opened the discussion by saying, “I am here to listen, to learn and to ask.”

He asked the roundtable, “At what age should children start dental screenings?”

Dr. Elliot Shulman, a professor and interim director of pediatric dentistry at West Virginia University, says nationally, the policy is to have a child see a dentist before their first birthday.

However, a common misconception is that children do not need to see a dentist until they are around the age of 5.

Rockefeller spoke of a “culture of fatalism” that exists in southern West Virginia.

Executive Director of the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department Richard Wittberg agrees. He says that many West Virginians believe, “It’s inevitable you’ll lose your teeth. It’s inevitable you’ll get diabetes. People don’t value their teeth like they should.”

However, he believes that school-based oral health programs can educate youth that teeth are important.

Sharon Carte, Children’s Health Insurance Program executive director, says an effort needs to be made to talk to the parents.

She says that many parents who utilize CHIP, work at jobs where they cannot take time off in order to take their children to dental appointments.

“We really need to hear straight out of their mouths what their concerns are,” Carte said.

Even if parents are able to take their children to dental appointments, Shulman says that many students are being penalized for missing school, even with a doctor’s excuse.

The panel also discussed the failure of several bills in the legislature to regulate oral health care for children.

“Dentistry has always been the red-headed stepchild of health care,” Dr. George Conard said. “We as a society have not put an importance on it.”

Rockefeller was a leading proponent of the CHIP Reauthorization Act, signed in February 2009, which required dental coverage to be added to benefit packages.

“Today, more children than before are seeing a dentist, and that’s just such great news,” Rockefeller said. “We must build upon the success with the CHIP program and work to see that all children receive oral health care. Access to dental care is not a luxury. It is a necessity that can change a child’s life. Each and every child deserves this care so that they can reach their full potential.”

— E-mail: wholdren@register-herald.com

1
Text Only
Latest News
  • legion VIDEO: American Legion posts plan to merge

    To help deal with its decreasing membership numbers, Beckley American Legion Post 70 is planning a merger with Post 32.

    “We see the benefit for both of us and for Raleigh County,” Post 32 Adjutant Frank Cook said. “Right now Post 70 is having membership problems and with membership problems comes financial problems.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tri-state coal interests rally before hearings

     More than 2,000 union workers and others organized by the coal industry in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia joined top state elected officials Wednesday to rally against proposed stricter federal pollution regulations for coal-burning power plants.

    July 31, 2014

  • legal Tort reform group brings message to Beckley

    How can West Virginia create more jobs and have a better business climate, at no cost to taxpayers?

    Greg Thomas, executive director of the West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (WV CALA), says legal reform is one of the answers to that question.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • ‘Biscuit guy’ makes his mark with anthem at TWV

    The old saying “being at the right place at the right time” couldn’t be more true for Calvin Alexander.

    Thanks to a salad dressing bottle (and some impressive vocal skills), Alexander was invited to sing the national anthem not once, but twice, at Theatre West Virginia before the opening of “Hatfields and McCoy

    July 31, 2014

  • Judge in W.Va. asked to delay gay marriage ruling

    Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has asked a judge to postpone ruling on a federal lawsuit challenging West Virginia's same-sex marriage ban until the U.S. Supreme Court reviews a ruling in a similar case in Virginia.

    July 30, 2014

  • Tri-state coal interests rally before EPA hearings

    More than 2,000 union workers and others organized by the coal industry in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia joined top state elected officials Wednesday to rally against proposed stricter federal pollution regulations for coal-burning power plants.

    July 30, 2014

  • Work continues on stand-alone Warrior Trail

    The executive director of the Hatfield and McCoy Trail Authority said Tuesday that officials are still working toward the creation of the stand-alone Warrior Trail in McDowell County.

    July 30, 2014

  • East River Mountain Tunnel repairs will continue for several weeks

    Motorists traveling Interstate 77 could see slight delays again tonight as repair work continues inside of the fire-damaged East River Mountain Tunnel.

    July 30, 2014

  • State leaders to attend coal rally in Pittsburgh

    West Virginia officials are set to join hundreds of coal miners and coal supporters at an electricity and energy jobs rally.

    July 30, 2014

  • Americans continue to be plagued by debt

    Credit card debt may have reached its lowest level in a decade, but according to a recent study on personal debt vs. income, just as more people are paying off their credit card debt monthly, nearly the same number of people are being reported for unpaid bills. 

    July 30, 2014