In the last 30 years, medical science and community leadership has slowly trended toward a theme that was long overdue.


A holistic approach to individual health morphed physicians from mere pill-pushing for a specific complaint, toward treating the entire person.

There is a parallel trend in education that has been simmering beneath the surface and is now emerging as a high priority.

Students don’t learn if they are not properly geared up to study. It should be the proverbial no-brainer, but for far too long we haven’t overly connected the dots between student achievement and the complications of health, hunger and housing.

Part of that health component is dental.

And that’s why is it pleasing to learn that on the North Coast something has been done about it.

The Oregon Community Foundation provided a five-year, $300,000 grant to Providence Seaside Hospital for school-based outreach to improve access.

Under the Healthy Smiles program, hundreds of students each year receive dental screenings, as well as sealants through the Oregon Health Authority and information on how to navigate dental care. Incredibly, those administering the program report they have encountered children who have never been to a dentist before.

But after this next school year, the program’s grant funding runs out. The good news is that wise Providence leaders have decided to continue the program on their own.

We join Tobi Boyd, Seaside School District’s health specialist, in applauding Providence for its forward-looking and caring leadership.

“Dental problems affect your whole body health and so it’s incredibly important,” Boyd said. “It’s probably one of the most important things to make sure our kids have healthy teeth.”

All is not perfect. Once dental health issues are identified there are insurance issues for many to overcome, and it doesn’t help the overall picture that there are no pediatric dental specialists in our county. Transportation challenges also must be overcome, too. But the program certainly is a positive step in the right direction.

For some while, Healthy Smiles has partnered with the Oregon Health Authority, local dentists and others to provide a screening and services once a year at Lum’s Auto Center. It is one of many examples of the Warrenton dealership’s positive contributions to the community.

Coming up there is another opportunity for such help. North Coast chiropractor Dr. Robert James is joining forces with Providence, Oregon Lions Club members and others to host a health fair and barbecue for students.

It is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 24 at James Chiropractic Spine and Joint Center, 139 S. Main St., Warrenton. Dental, vision and hearing screenings will be offered free, plus sports physicals, too.

It’s another positive sign that people are stepping up with positive, specific actions because they realize that to create the best climate for learning, we must remove any and all obstacles to success.

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