If a child has a toothache, they are unable to concentrate on their schoolwork and are more likely to miss school, causing them to fall behind academically. Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in children, and over 2 in 3 children in Texas experience tooth decay by the time they reach the third grade. Dental care is the most commonly overlooked basic need for children of low-income families, and children in underserved communities are twice as likely to develop cavities and twice as likely to go without care. In addition to the myriad of challenges CIS students face, poor oral health is one of the most significant physical impediments to their success in school. While CIS’ ultimate goal is that students graduate from high school, our first priority is to provide a safety net for at-risk students, including mental and dental support that will help them achieve in school and succeed in life.
As a response to the overwhelming need for dental services among our students, CIS started the CIS Project MOVE Dental Program in 1997. The program, in partnership with University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston, provides preventive and restorative dental care, and oral health presentations to elementary school students. Through CIS Project MOVE Dental, CIS facilitates a state of the art mobile dental clinic that provides free dental services on the school campus, and coordinates restorative care for students whose procedures cannot be performed on site. Because many of our students lack insurance or are ineligible for Medicaid or CHIP, it is often the first time they have visited a dentist.