Nurses aim to tackle dental care

” The University of Akron’s College of Nursing will soon be making smiles brighter and healthier in the community. The College of Nursing has been awarded a three-year grant of over $1,000,000 from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The money will go toward a pilot program that will aim to improve the oral health of low-income mothers, children and pregnant women in Summit and Portage counties.”

The University of Akron’s College of Nursing will soon be making smiles brighter and healthier in the community.

The College of Nursing has been awarded a three-year grant of over $1,000,000 from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The money will go toward a pilot program that will aim to improve the oral health of low-income mothers, children and pregnant women in Summit and Portage counties.

Oral health is so closely tied to general health that we simply can’t ignore it, Dr. Margaret Wineman, dean of the College of Nursing, said.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation aims to support children, families and communities by providing money to help people help themselves.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) will work with the college to find out how many mothers are interested in participating in the program.

Providing oral health care to the underserved can narrow a profound existing gap in quality of health between socio-economic classes, Wineman said.

Those who take part in the program will receive oral health education and referrals to area dentists.

They will also receive services such as fluoride varnishes for children, which protects against tooth decay. The varnish will be administered by UA nursing and dietetic students.

An interdisciplinary program, managed by Dr. Diana Biordi, associate dean of research and graduate programming in the College of Nursing, will rely on nurses to provide health care and education. Nutritionists will provide nutrition counseling and education.

Dr. Marlene Huff and Dr. Peg DiMarco are nationally recognized oral health experts and will be the key nurses involved in the program.

Dr. Deborah Marino and Evelyn Taylor, UA family and consumer science professors and dieticians, will provide the majority of the nutritional support to the program.

This grant will allow us to gather comprehensive data and track children, Biordi explained.

The program is expected to benefit approximately 4,000 children in Summit and Portage counties.

The pilot program will be evaluated and may be considered for expansion to other WIC organizations.

We hope to provide a much needed service and improve the overall health of the poor, who have traditionally been an underserved population, Biordi said.