, Salem, MA


February 28, 2013

Letter: Concerns raised over school dental care offering

To the editor:

From the Feb. 6 Salem News article, “Open wide: Teeth cleanings offered in Salem Public Schools,” we applaud Paula Dobrow, director of nursing and health services in the Salem schools, for her concern about the oral health of the school population. We certainly feel this is an opportunity to increase awareness about oral health literacy but feel the schools have somewhat shortchanged the students without, in some way, attempting to collaborate with the dental professionals in Salem.

We were somewhat surprised to read, on the front page of The Salem News, that the Salem Public Schools are to have a private, for-profit company come into Salem to do “cleanings, sealants and fluoride treatments” for public school students.

Our first concern is the quality of care being provided in this type of operation, but we are sure the city of Salem has done its due diligence and that a level of quality can be assumed. But we are also concerned about the liability to the city should some significant area of concern be missed and the potential harm that could befall the student. We hope that the hygienists providing treatment explain that this is merely a “cleaning, sealants and fluoride treatment program” and does not include a complete oral exam.

We also have a significant concern about the follow-up protocol should there be some level of dental disease detected and again about the liability if, indeed, the student is not seen for necessary care. There was a reference in the article to referrals, should the need arise, but who is responsible for this and who will make sure the student is seen by a dentist?

We hope that the Salem School Committee has addressed these concerns prior to enlisting the services of this company, but we are sending this letter in an attempt to reach out and offer our collaborative support should nursing and health services find that they need the aid of local Salem dental professionals.

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