March 18, 2005
ILLINOIS ACHIEVES PERFECT GRADE IN ORAL HEALTH
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Illinois is one of only nine states in the nation to earn an “A” grade for improvements in oral health from Oral Health America, an independent corporation that recognizes promising efforts in oral health.
“The Illinois Department of Public Health’s Division of Oral Health has worked tirelessly to set a high standard for the promotion, education and policy efforts for improving oral health,” said Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director. “The A for Effort report card is evidence of our commitment to addressing this public health issue with a special emphasis on our school-aged population.”
The grades recognize new programs, policies and progress all reinforcing the message that oral health is essential to overall good health. Illinois received its “A” grade for passing into law an amendment to the school code mandating that all kindergarteners, second, and sixth graders in public, private or parochial schools receive a dental exam. Each child in those grades is required to show proof of a dental exam by May 15. The school may hold the child’s report card until the child shows proof of a dental exam or that one is scheduled to take place within 60 days after May 15. Waivers are available for children who do not have access to dental insurance.
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) will track the number of students who had the exams and how many were not able to fulfill the requirement to effectively measure progress and needs. The law goes into effect July 1, 2005.
The idea for the new law came as a result of a recommendation from the IFLOSS Coalition, a public-private partnership comprised of citizens, dental professionals, state agencies and local health departments, that was organized to improve oral health care in Illinois. IFLOSS was instrumental in developing the Illinois Oral Health Plan, a long- range plan that addresses Illinois-specific priorities for improving oral health, including the amendment to the school code. The suggestion was brought to the attention of the Illinois State Dental Society and state Rep. David Miller (D-Dolton).
“This mandate is aimed at increasing awareness of oral health and emphasizing the important connection between oral care and overall health,” Dr. Miller said.
“It is not uncommon to see dental decay on patients at a very young age. This measure will ensure more children see their dentist on a routine basis and will save money on future dental bills and achieve improved oral hygiene.”For more information on oral health visit the Department’s Web site at www.idph.state.il.us.
of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
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