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PJs Fashion a New Dental Experience

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Leslie Capo

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Pajamas were de rigueur the evening of January 25 at LSU Health New Orleans School of Dentistry. Patients, students and faculty sported their comfiest and cutest PJs at the celebration welcoming the leadership of Healthy Smiles, Healthy Children, the charitable arm of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. The Foundation funded a grant to LSU Health New Orleans School of Dentistry to develop an after-hours clinic for working parents, and Dr. Neophytos L. Savide, President of HSHC, and Paul Amundsen, MNA, CFRE, Vice President for Development and Charitable Programming, wanted to see it in action. They intend for the LSU Health New Orleans After-Hours Pediatric Dental Clinic to serve as a national model.

Glow-in-the-dark balloons, streamers, stars and twinkle lights festooned the lobby and clinic areas. Patients and their parents, as well as guests, enjoyed games of all sorts–from ring toss and board games to interactive tooth brushing, courtesy of live student models, Toothpaste, Sparkle the Toothbrush and Tooth. Popping kernels perfumed the air with irresistible sounds and smells. During story time, “Dr. Ned” (Dr. Neophytos L. Savide, President of HSHC) read, A Daytime, Nightime Story, a book about children going to the dentist at the LSU Health clinic. And the Tooth Fairy made a special appearance. There were party hats, masks and movies, as well as a prize box brimming with rewards for being a good patient.

Special guests included Louisiana State Senator Wesley T. Bishop (District 4), Dr. Richard L. Owens, Sr., 2016 President of the New Orleans Dental Association, and Dr. Claudia Cavallino, President of the Louisiana State Board of Dentistry.

Volunteer students, residents and faculty currently treat children and adolescents two evenings, from 5:00 - 8:00 p.m., and one Saturday, from 8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., per month. The clinic, under the direction of Kimberly Patterson, DDS, MS, Assistant Professor and Predoctoral Program Director, offers parents access to quality dental care for their children at their convenience.

Sen. Wesley Bishop
The pajama party drew attention to the need for early dental care and recognized two concepts—the dental home and after-hours pediatric dental care—that make it possible for more children, regardless of their financial means, to receive early and ongoing dental care.

“While dental disease is preventable, many working families cannot take off from work or take children out of school to go the dentist,” notes Dr. Henry Gremillion, Dean of LSU Health New Orleans School of Dentistry. “By offering after-hours care, we hope to remove those barriers to dental care and establish a dental home for children of the Greater New Orleans community.”

after hours dental clinic pjs party
Healthy Smiles, Healthy Children believes every child deserves a dental home, a place where children receive ongoing, consistent and compassionate dental care.

“At a Dental Home, the door is open to all children to help them on their way to a lifetime of good oral health,” said Dr. Neophytos L. Savide, President of HSHC. “Offering dental services in the evening hours is an innovative approach that has increased access to care for even more of our most vulnerable children.”

Tooth decay is on the increase and has become epidemic among the youngest children in the U.S. A rapid form of tooth decay, known as early childhood caries (ECC), is the most common disease faced by young children. It is five times more common than asthma. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, by the age of three, 5-10 % of American children have oral health issues. By the age of five, approximately 60% of children in the U.S. will have had cavities. By the time they enter kindergarten, as many as 40% of U.S. children have cavities. Children from low-income and minority families have a higher incidence of oral health issues. This group of children is less likely to see a dentist, and their disease is more than twice as likely to go untreated.
Services at LSU Health New Orleans After-Hours Pediatric Dental Clinic include examinations, x-rays, cleanings and sealants, as well as restorative services (fillings, crowns, pulp therapy, and space maintenance) and extractions. Call 504-941-8201 for appointments. The clinic will accept Medicaid and LaCHIP, and others can benefit from the discounted care under the school’s student fee schedule.
Dr. Kimberly Patterson
“We will be watching your progress here, and hopefully we can continue to assist you in the future,” said Dr. Savide. “Hopefully this becomes something that can even be expanded.”