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Something to Smile About: Partnership provides free dental care to Bakersfield area high school students

In honor of National Dental Children’s Health Month this February, the CRC, CTA and USC Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry partnership is helping to better communities one tooth at a time.

A free dental mobile clinic provided much-needed dental services to 150 low-income Taft Union High School (TUHS) students in Bakersfield over the weekend (Jan. 27) to kick off National Dental Children’s Health Month in February. The event was held thanks to a partnership between TUHS, California Resources Corporation (CRC), Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC and the California Teachers Association.

The dental clinic also provided Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC residents with clinical experience. 

“This is a partnership we can all smile about,” said Amanda Carter, Taft Elementary Teachers Association, who attended the event. “Dental screenings is an important part of my students’ health and well-being.  Happy, healthy students are successful students.  Because students from our community have challenges accessing the proper dental care, we often see children who come to school with abscesses and other dental issues. Too many times, they miss school because they are in pain, or embarrassed.  And missing school makes it difficult for them to learn and succeed.”

This is the second of a three-year partnership in the Taft region.  “By addressing basic dental care needs of locals students, we are proud to help these future leaders of Kern County have the passion and energy to learn and thrive,” said Todd Stevens, CRC president.

In October 2018, USC screened 700 students at TUHS and found 9.5 percent in “severe need of immediate dental care” and another 48.5 percent with initial visible signs of dental cavities.  Students with the most critical need received dental exams and services in a specially equipped mobile dental van.  Families were also encouraged to visit their regular dentists and receive services.  CRS’s multiyear commitment helps address the ongoing dental needs for the most vulnerable in the Taft region, says Stevens.

Dental problems keep California students out of class an estimated 874,000 days a year, costing schools nearly $30 million in lost attendance-based funding, according to the California Department of Public Health.  As California educators work to boost student achievement, dental conditions may hold underprivileged students back.

“Students learn best when they come to school healthy and ready to learn.  Since children with tooth decay are 12 times more likely to miss school, and missing school negatively impacts student achievement, we are doing what we can to prove the oral health of the students in Kern County,” said CTA President Eric Heins. 

Some 150 Taft Union High School students received free dental care

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