search button
newscenter logo
Sunday, May 16, 2021

Follow SDSU Follow SDSU on Twitter Follow SDSU on Facebook SDSU RSS Feed

The Healthy Smiles program, funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute, has partnered with orthodontists throughout San Diego County. The Healthy Smiles program, funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute, has partnered with orthodontists throughout San Diego County.
 


SDSU and Orthodontists Team for Teen Health Education

The Healthy Smiles program provides nutrition, activity and tobacco avoidance advice during visits.
By Golda Akhgarnia
 

SDSU is pairing up with local orthodontists to spread the word to teens about healthy lifestyles and habits.

Funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute, Healthy Smiles will partner with up to 40 orthodontist offices and a total of 1,700 pre-teen and teen patients in San Diego. The study will test three minutes of advice while patients obtain orthodontic care in order to increase their healthy eating, physical activity and tobacco avoidance.

Offering unique skills and opportunities

“Orthodontists have the unique skills and opportunity to see young patients repeatedly over months, making it likely that they can promote healthy lifestyles as part of routine orthodontics that will establish lifelong practices and prevent chronic diseases,” said Mel Hovell, SDSU public health professor and principal investigator of the project.

Orthodontists and staff receive a two-hour training session on how to offer brief advice during regularly scheduled appointments. Half of the participating offices will take part in a nutrition and activity program, while the other half will participate in a tobacco avoidance educational program, both tailored for orthodontic care.

Reducing tobacco smoking

Healthy Smiles is based on a previous study conducted by Hovell and Budd Rubin, DDS, MS, which found that orthodontic advice could reduce preteens’ initiation of tobacco smoking.

“If Healthy Smiles is as effective as our earlier trial, we believe it will set new standards for health promotion services for all dental and medical practices, where cumulative messages may establish the cultural support necessary for sustaining health promoting lifestyles among preteens,” Rubin said.

Throughout the intervention, offices are supplied with health education materials and up-to-date information for patients ages 8 to 14 and their families. They can also receive additional training as requested.

Offices participating in the study also receive continuing education units for recertification for their staff and complimentary health education materials for their patients and their parents.

Eleven offices are currently participating and have already seen positive results. Donna Adishian, a registered dental assistant with Dr. Bradford Baker’s office in Escondido, said, “We have had nothing but positive feedback from both patients and their parents.”

Setting new national standards

“Healthy Smiles enables San Diego orthodontists to set the new national standards for preventive care in dentistry and expand their practices at the same time,” Hovell said. “Together, we can help reverse the dramatic obesity epidemic now afflicting preteens, and the resulting chronic diseases.”

Offices currently participating include:

  • Melanie Parker in San Diego
  • Santiago Surillo in La Mesa
  • Bradford Baker in Escondido
  • Daniel Flores in Fallbrook
  • John Hoss in La Jolla and Santee
  • Cynthia Jackson in Alpine
  • William Thomas in Poway
  • Federico Drachenberg in Chula Vista
  • David Li and William Barton in San Diego
  • Yen Le in Mira Mesa

Those who are interested in participating can find out more about Healthy Smiles by contacting the program coordinator, Katy Schmitz, at kschmitz@projects.sdsu.edu or 858-505-4770, ext. 151.