Treatment Takes Less Than One Minute and Reduces Risk of Cavities

Cooperstown, N.Y. – Bassett Healthcare Network is working to bridge preventive dental treatment with well-child checks across its pediatric clinics with fluoride varnish treatments. Fluoride varnish, a protective substance painted on the teeth, significantly reduces risks of tooth decay and cavities. The process takes less than a minute and can be performed by a medical or dental provider.

Bassett Healthcare Network’s 22 school-based health centers, which are already performing fluoride varnish treatments as part of their complement of dental care, offer it to all students who have a moderate or high risk for dental decay, which can lead to cavities and tooth loss.

Now, the service is being expanded beyond Bassett’s School-Based Health Program. The organization’s Dental Services and Pediatrics departments are teaming up to bring the highly effective dental treatment to more children across Bassett’s eight-county service area. So far, fluoride varnish treatments are available at select pediatric and family medicine practices, including Bassett’s Pediatric Clinic in Cooperstown, Oneonta Health Center (125 Main Street), Herkimer Health Center, and FoxCare Pediatrics in Oneonta. Plans are in development to expand the program to other Bassett Healthcare Network pediatric and family medicine practices.

“Knowing that children with poor oral health are three times more likely than their peers to miss school, I cannot emphasize enough how valuable fluoride treatments will be to children throughout Bassett’s eight-county service area,” said Dr. William Fredette, co-director of Bassett Healthcare Network’s School-Based Health Program and Senior Attending Physician at FoxCare Pediatrics in Oneonta.

Fluoride, a naturally occurring mineral, is released from rocks into soil, air, and water. Fluoride protects teeth from decay by strengthening and rebuilding the surface of the tooth. Some groundwater and natural springs have naturally high levels of fluoride, but usually, fluoride levels in home water supplies are not enough to prevent tooth decay. Fluoride-containing dental products like toothpaste and mouth rinses are supplements to help people control and prevent tooth decay with daily oral hygiene practices. Fluoride varnish is a safe, simple, and effective intervention to begin preventing tooth decay in children.

Leah Carpenter, DMD, Senior Attending Dentist in Bassett Healthcare Network Department of Dental Services, said: “Many of our rural families do not have fluoride in their water. Access to affordable dental care is also a challenge in our area, especially for our low-income families. Many people are surprised to learn that dental decay is the most common chronic disease of childhood – it’s also preventable. Having medical providers able to apply fluoride varnish is a great way to integrate oral health with overall health for our patients.”

“Dental care for young people is an essential facet of their health and well-being,” said Staci Thompson, President and CEO of Bassett Healthcare Network. “We are proud to extend the availability of our fluoride varnish program, and to bring more and more healthy smiles to the communities we serve.”