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Jennings appointed to state dental leadership team

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Watertown City Councilman Stephen A. Jennings has been appointed to a statewide oral health group.

Mr. Jennings was selected recently to serve on the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy’s Statewide Oral Health Leadership Team. It chose Mr. Jennings for his dual roles as a Jefferson County public health planner and as a city councilman.

The Schuyler Center is a statewide, nonprofit organization working to shape policies that improve health, welfare and human services in the state.

Mr. Jennings, who won election in November, chose to run for office partly because an anti-fluoride movement was formed last year.

It lobbied local officials to eliminate the chemical from the city’s water supply.

Mr. Jennings said he looks forward to working with other professionals in reducing dental disease.

“Oral health disease often starts at a very young age and can have lifelong impact,” he said. “It is the leading children’s disease in the nation and in my community. Oral health disease causes tremendous personal and health system cost burdens.”

The center recently received two grants to support oral health work: one from the New York State Health Foundation and another from the Health Foundation for Central and Western New York. The objective is to make recommendations at the local and state levels to reduce oral health disease in children throughout the state.

Mr. Jennings will put together a local team that will oversee a study involving early childhood dental disease in Watertown and possibly throughout Jefferson County. A similar study will be completed in Buffalo.

The project will look for ways to reduce dental disease by preserving water fluoridation and taking other targeted actions, such as applying fluoride varnish to children’s teeth, increasing the numbers of children who have preventive dental visits, increasing early toothbrushing in children with fluoride toothpaste and reducing the odds of severe dental problems in children and adults.

The team also will work on reviewing state laws, regulations and policies that affect oral health services.

The group also plans to complete a report on how to reduce dental diseases in children.

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