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Report gives Montana an 'F' for kids' dental health, Montana dentists disagree

By Katherine Mozzone, KTVM Reporter, kmozzone@ktvm.com
Published On: Jan 09 2013 06:33:35 PM MST
Updated On: Jan 09 2013 06:41:58 PM MST
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

A Pew report says Montana falls short when it comes to protecting children from tooth decay by failing to provide access to a certain type of preventative treatment called sealants.

They're clear, plastic coatings applied to the chewing surface of permanent molars that acts as a barrier to food that could cause decay.

The report indicates there aren't any Montana schools with sealant programs but I talked to dentists in Montana say that's not the case.

"I did a sealant program in Willow Creek and saw about 30 kids," explains dentist William Samson.

Dr. Samson owns Summit Dental.  He says Montana dentists like him donate millions of dollars worth of their time for public health projects like the sealant programs.

"You're disheartened because you're doing a lot of work and then to have it publicized that we're not meeting certain standards when we are meeting certain standards, it's frustrating," says Samson.

Samson says of the 157 schools found to have kids with a possible need for dental services, 103 of those either have had sealant programs in the past or will have them in the future.

And coordinators say, it doesn't stop with sealants.

"We don't just go in one day and, 'good luck.  I hope you find a dentist, I hope you get insurance,' it's not like that at all.  We keep in really close contact with the school.  The following year, when we go into the school, we'll check sealant placement so, we have the data for the kids we saw last year.  We'll see them again the next year, see if the sealants are still there, if they're not, we place another one, if they are, perfect," says dental outreach coordinator Ellen Missert.

It's just one reason why Samson says when Pew reviews their data from Montana, it will be a completely different story.

Montana dentists tell me the fact they have no state oral health department means Pew didn't have a way to retrieve information for their study.
     
Folks with Pew say that's an issue in and of itself and dentists tell me, it's something they're working towards.