Editor's Note

TWO HUNDRED and fifty miles of rolling hills, deer, and the random establishment of Indian casinos separate me from the community where I grew up. This distance accounts for the last 20 years; for 10 years of my adult life, I lived only 90 miles away. I've shown my daughter my childhood home twice. I have no idea why I never took my two sons there. Maybe she was kind enough to feign interest.

TWO HUNDRED and fifty miles of rolling hills, deer, and the random establishment of Indian casinos separate me from the community where I grew up. This distance accounts for the last 20 years; for 10 years of my adult life, I lived only 90 miles away. I've shown my daughter my childhood home twice. I have no idea why I never took my two sons there. Maybe she was kind enough to feign interest.

I remember an unsettling aspect of both trips. My daughter was very young on the first trip, most likely still in elementary school. After we toured the neighborhood, we stopped at a restaurant to eat Mexican food. I ordered a beer. The waitress referred me to the manager, who informed me, in front of my daughter, that I had to join the "club." It was a confusing encounter to me. I would like to say I had forgotten the liquor laws of the dry community. But I believe instead it was the first and only time I consumed an alcoholic beverage in the town where I grew up.

My daughter was older on the second trip, possibly even in high school. I knocked on the door of the house belonging to the mother of a good friend during my childhood days. The woman was totally frightened by me and showed no recognition of me. Fortunately, her daughter, who remembered me well, pulled into the driveway and explained that her mother had Alzheimer's. I believe it is the first and only time where I have attempted a conversation with someone with advanced Alzheimer's.

I have not gone back to the community since. I did, however, have a good childhood. My fondest memories are of the days spent at the community swimming pool. My childhood was spent in two homes, and both homes were in the middle of the same public school district. The school district was established in 1854 to "to educate the children of local farmers, small business owners, and others who had settled near the railroad."

I didn't memorize that last sentence. It came from the school district's website. The students now eat a breakfast of "one milk, a choice of fruit and juice and a choice of either two grains or a meat and a grain, depending on the menu." I think I ate (at home) Pop-Tarts (Kellogg introduced them in the 1960s), toast, or cereal. I also checked to see if a dentist or dental hygienist ever made a professional appearance in any of the schools. I don't remember meeting any (not to worry, dental care for their children was as high of a priority to my parents as the school district where we lived).

They do. The school district's nurses formed a partnership with a nearby dental school for a dental sealant program that "is offered to all third grade students at participating schools. This voluntary program is offered at no cost to the student, whether or not they have insurance. This year almost 1,100 sealants were applied ... Dental students ... work in a temporary clinic set up in an available room at the school. There they perform a brief screening, place the sealants, and apply fluoride. Students with dental concerns, such as cavities, are referred for additional treatment."

The development of the current generation of dental sealants reached significant milestones during the 1970s, several years after I digested several cases worth of Pop-Tarts (my dentist worries, since quite a few restorations need to be replaced in my mouth in a sporadic manner).

The browsing around on the school district's website for the first time ever was prompted by Christine Nathe's article and column (pages 18 and 20) in this issue on the topic of school-based care.

Much of her writing is focused on a dental hygienist's efforts for a dental clinic in Florida. But there's a part that I want to repeat here. She writes about Dr. Alfred Fones' objectives when he founded dental hygiene and noted:

"Fones further suggested that the dental profession was unable to cope with the universal need for mouth hygiene and that dental hygiene was created from the realization that mouth hygiene was a necessity. He further promoted the solution for the public health problem of mouth hygiene to be professionals who accessed the population in the public arenas as outreach workers, providing preventive care and referring patients in need to dental offices. This was and still is a logical method to promote dental public health and ensure access to care, while utilizing both providers effectively."

I agree. Don't you?

Mark Hartley
markh@pennwell.com
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