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What it means to be a community public health dental professional

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The NH mascot (a giant caribou in a blue shirt) stands next to a dental clinic door
The Northern Health mascot Spirit visits the fluoride varnish clinic in Prince George. The clinic provides free fluoride varnish for children at risk for tooth decay.

A day in the life of a community public health dental professional can include a variety of exciting challenges. Northern Health’s Dental Program focuses on preventing tooth decay (cavities) in children 0-6 years of age.

Tooth decay can cause loss of appetite or loss of sleep, and therefore delay growth, learning, and development. If tooth decay develops into an abscess, serious health issues can develop that might require antibiotics and other medications, or even hospitalization, missing school, or missing work.

Strong, healthy teeth are a vital part of our overall health and daily lives. They are a unique part of our bodies. They come in many shapes, colours, and sizes, and they help with jaw development, chewing, speaking, and smiling. We work with children, families, and health professionals to help prevent tooth decay by providing the following services:

  • Free oral assessments of children's teeth (Note: Does not replace regular dental office visits)
  • Education on how to care for teeth.
  • Free fluoride varnish for children at risk for tooth decay. This helps strengthen teeth and stop or slow down tooth decay until children can get dental treatment, or until their first teeth naturally fall out.
  • Help for families searching for a dental office.
  • Dental resources to schools and daycares.
  • Participation in community health fairs and wellness projects.

We also provide some services to adults through the following programs:

  • Dental health services for community living: These services are provided by dental hygienists in BC’s health authorities, with the goal of helping people with special needs access the level of dental care available to everyone else in the community.
  • Emergency outreach: This is a free service to help those who otherwise could not access dental care. Services focus on pain relief only, and the program is located in Prince George.
  • Geriatric outreach dental program: This program works together with dentists to provide oral screenings and basic dental services to the residents of Northern Health’s five residential care facilities in Prince George.

Working as a community public health dental professional is both rewarding and gratifying. Knowing that every day we’re working to help make a difference in the health of our community’s families brings a great sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.