BCHD to offer free dental screenings for Kindergarteners

Published 11:07 am Wednesday, May 29, 2024

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BENTON HARBOR — The Berrien County Health Department is partnering with the Van Buren/Cass County District Health Department to provide preventative dental screenings for all kindergarteners now required by Michigan law.

The Berrien County Health Department is administering screenings at its Benton Harbor office, 2149 E. Napier Ave., throughout the summer. An appointment is required and must be made by visiting bit.ly/BCHDHearingVision or calling Melisa Jordan at 269.926.7121, ext. 5293.

The assessment is completely free, and no dental insurance is needed. Dental professionals from Van Buren/Cass County District Health Department are conducting the visits that could help identify early dental disease.

Parents and guardians can expect the assessment to include the registered dental hygienist briefly looking at the child’s teeth and gums then simply noting any findings. There will be no treatment or dental cleaning performed during the painless visit, which should take approximately 5 minutes.

For those who prefer to see their established dental provider, bring this KOHA Assessment Form MDHHS-6067 for the dentist to fill out. The form should be returned to the school the child is attending.

The screening is now required for all children before they begin kindergarten as part of

the Kindergarten Oral Health Assessment law, signed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer in December 2023. The dental assessment joins vision and hearing screens as requirements for all Michigan students entering kindergarten. A full schedule can be viewed here.

“We recognize it can be difficult for families to access dental care whether it’s cost of care or insufficient insurance coverage,” said Health Officer Guy Miller from Berrien County Health Department. “By offering these free screenings, we hope to make it easy for parents and families to ensure their children are prepared for a successful start to kindergarten.

“We appreciate the opportunity to partner with the Van Buren/Cass County District Health Department to provide dentals screenings for Berrien County children.”

By increasing access to dental professionals, parents and caregivers can identify early signs of dental disease before it causes the child any pain or serious damage to their dental health. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists, 34 million hours of school are lost annually due to unforeseen dental issues. Children experiencing dental pain struggle to focus in school, eat nutritious meals and maintain a proper sleep schedule.

If a dental professional recommends your child seeks treatment, Berrien County Health Department can provide information on Healthy Kids Dental, a program that provides dental coverage to anyone under age 18 who is enrolled in Medicaid.

For more information about the dental screenings, visit the BCHD website.