Oral Health Assessment and Fluoride Varnish Application Training for Academy of Family Physicians

The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), Maternal and Child Health Section, Oral Health Program would like to offer the Georgia Academy of Family Physicians oral health assessment training and fluoride varnish workshops around the state. We have already launched this initiative. The DPH Oral Health Program provided a short half hour oral health assessment and fluoride varnish application overview during the Conclave Meeting at Callaway Gardens in March. The presentation evaluations demonstrated a strong interest by the attendees to include oral health assessments, anticipatory guidance, and fluoride varnish applications as part of their practice protocols.

 Research has demonstrated inclusion of oral health in the family practice for non-dental health care providers complements the comprehensive care model of family medicine and has the potential of improving the overall health of your patients. This is not a substitute for the dental home, but a collaborative opportunity to offer comprehensive care for your patients and determine when early dental practice referrals are needed.

The DPH Oral Health Program will have an oral health staff member, Jorge Bernal, DDS, at the Annual Session in Hilton Head in June. If you are interested in a regional meeting next year, either in Columbus, Savannah, or another region of the state please let Dr. Bernal know at the meeting. He will have a sign-up sheet so we can contact you to schedule presentations beginning in September. Dr. Bernal will also have samples of single-application fluoride varnish for member, as well as copies of handouts for Academy members and educational materials for families. Stop by and visit the Maternal and Child Health exhibit table.

Additional workshops are planned around the state and will continue with hands-on practice training.

Question you may have: How is fluoride varnish different from other professionally applied fluorides?

Fluoride varnish offers several advantages over other professionally applied fluorides:

  • The higher concentration of fluoride and greater viscosity make it less likely to be ingested and only a small amount needed
  •  Varnish comes in child-friendly flavors and is easily tolerated, especially by infants, toddlers, and developmentally disabled people.
  •  Providers find it easy to use and fast to apply.
  •  Fluoride varnish is swabbed onto the teeth in less than two minutes and sets within a minute of contact with saliva.
  •  Fluoride varnish is safe.
  •  It can be applied in any setting and does not require dental equipment.
  • Medicaid will reimburse the practice for this service.

Not all members of the Academy were able to attend the Conclave meeting in March. Due to the positive response to the presentation we would like to offer a slightly longer and more detailed workshop presentation in locations convenient to the members of the Academy. If you have a group of members interested in a workshop please contact Carol Smith at: carol.smith@dph.ga.gov.

What would be recommended after hands on training? The Oral Health staff recommends the medical practice pilot a few test cases to assess office flow, billing, patient satisfaction, and staff satisfaction. Have a meeting to get input from all employees. Have handouts to explain to families the value of the fluoride varnish. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that physicians refer patients to the dentist at eruption of the first tooth and no later than 12 months of age. The medical practice should have a dental referral list; if you need assistance finding a dentist in your community please contact the state oral health office for assistance.

Additionally, online training can be found on a few sites:

The Smiles for Life, a National Oral Health Program (endorsed by the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine) One CME credit is available through the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) upon completion. http://www.smilesforlifeoralhealth.org

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Oral Health Risk Assessment Training for Pediatricians and Other Child Health Professionals. One CME credit available upon completion.

The DPH Oral Health staff are available to assist you. Please feel free to contact Carol Smith, Director of Oral Health, at carol.smith@dph.ga.gov if you need assistance with your oral health training.