DHEC Helps S.C. Parents Brush Up on Good Oral Health Habits for Kids

Division of Oral Health Receives Over $500,000 in Federal Funding ​

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, and DHEC is helping parents brush up on the importance of their child’s oral hygiene and the positive habits that lead to healthy smiles. As part of this effort, DHEC’s Division of Oral Health received $570,000 in federal funding from the CDC to support the oral health of South Carolina’s youngest children.​

“We’re trying to expand the recognition of oral health as an essential part of total health and well-being from the earliest age,” said Dr. Ray Lala, director of the Division of Oral Health at DHEC. “We want receiving a toothbrush at a DHEC regional office or from a pediatrician to be a common experience. Prevention is key, and we can all be messengers.”

The Perinatal and Infant Oral Health Quality Improvement Expansion Grant funding helps expand the public’s access to preventive oral health information through their local health departments and medical and dental settings.

In addition to the Division of Oral Health’s ongoing efforts to expand federal funding opportunities, the division is also proud to recognize its leader, Dr. Lala. 

_MG_8774 Lala Sept 2013.jpgDr. Lala has spent his professional career in Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Maryland. He is an alumnus of the University of New Orleans and the Louisiana State University School of Dentistry. Upon completion of dental school, he entered private practice and maintains an active dental license from the State of Louisiana.​

After 15 years of private dental practice, he was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Public Health Service, assigned to the Indian Health Service in 1993. He was selected for a federal detail as the South Carolina State Oral Health Coordinator in 2000. Upon completion of this detail in 2004, Dr. Lala was reassigned to the Health Resources and Services Administration in Rockville, Md. Upon retirement from the Indian Health Service and the Public Health Service in 2014, Dr. Lala assumed his current position as Director of the Division of Oral Health at DHEC.

Dr. Lala’s and his team’s commitment to increasing access to preventive oral health information in South Carolina aligns with our agency’s core value of Embracing Service and strategy of Education and Engagement.

For more information about you can help prevent tooth decay, click here to read our recent news release.

From Other Blogs: The dangers of carbon monoxide, staying fit, tracking Radon

 A collection of health and environmental posts from other governmental blogs.

The Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

According to the American Red Cross, more than 15,200 people go to hospital emergency rooms each year to be treated for carbon monoxide poisoning.

And, approximately 400 people die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning. — From Lexington Medical Center’s official blog

Fitting in fitness throughout your busy day

Finding time for exercise can be a challenge. Ideally, we should be getting 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week. But how can you squeeze that into your already busy day? — From Flourish, Palmetto Health’s blog

Radon: We Track That!

CDC’s Tracking Network connects people with vital information on a variety of health and environmental topics. Learn how radon data and information help determine individual and community risk for radon and inform community interventions. — The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Your Health – Your Environment blog

Take These 3 Steps To Combat The Flu

The Centers for Disease Control is recommending that we take three actions to combat the flu:

  1. Take time to get a flu vaccine
  2. Take preventive actions to stop the spread of germs
  3. Take antiviral Drugs if your doctor prescribes them.

Get vaccinated

CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get a yearly flu vaccine, which is the first and most important step in protecting against influenza.

Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations. There are data to suggest that even if someone gets sick after vaccination, their illness may be milder.

Vaccination of high risk persons is especially important to decrease their risk of severe flu illness.

People at high risk of serious flu complications include young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease and people 65 years and older.

Vaccination also is important for health care workers, and others who live with or care for high risk people.

Stop the spread of germs

Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to avoid infecting them.

If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)

Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. After using a tissue, throw it in the trash and wash your hands. Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

Take flu antiviral drugs if they are prescribed

If you get sick with flu, antiviral drugs can be used to treat your illness.

Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also prevent serious flu complications.

Studies show that flu antiviral drugs work best for treatment when they are started within 48 hours of getting sick, but starting them later can still be helpful, especially if the sick person has a high-risk health condition or is very sick from flu. Follow your doctor’s instructions for taking this drug.

Visit the CDC’s website for more information on the three actions you should take to combat the flu.

DHEC in the News: Narcan, flu, litter control

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around South Carolina.

Myrtle Beach Police saved most lives with Narcan in South Carolina in 2018, DHEC says

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – The Department of Health and Environmental Control says the Myrtle Beach Police Department saved the most lives from overdoses using Narcan than any other law enforcement agency in the state.

According to DHEC, the Myrtle Beach Police Department administered Narcan 21 times in 2018, and eight times in 2017.

Flu activity decreases in SC, deaths increase

Now that we’re getting into the typical peak of flu season in South Carolina, a decrease in activity may provide a false sense of security.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) puts out a weekly “Flu Watch” report. The most up-do-date numbers posted on their website showed a decrease in flu activity across the state for the second week of January.

However, there was a surge in the number of flu-related deaths.

PalmettoPride Releases 2018 Litter Control Report Numbers

PalmettoPride announced this week the 2018 Litter Control Enforcement Grant ticket numbers. From the 24 enforcement agencies that received a 2017-2018 Enforcement Grant, reports indicate that a total of $341,306.73 in fines were collected from 898 successfully prosecuted cases.

Many of the reporting agencies utilize both state statues and local ordinances when addressing littering and illegal dumping.

Confronting The Myths Surrounding Cervical Cancer

More than 12,000 women in the United States get cervical cancer each year, and more than half of these cases occur in women who have never been screened or who haven’t been screened in the past five years. Spreading the facts and debunking these and other myths is important. Please help spread the word during January for National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month and throughout the year.

Myth #1: I don’t need to get screened because cervical cancer doesn’t run in my family.

MythBuster: Most cervical cancers are caused by certain types of the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is spread by skin contact during vaginal, oral, or anal sex with someone who has the virus. HPV is so common that almost every sexually active person will get it at some time in their life if they have not had the HPV vaccine. Although HPV is very common, few men and women will go on to develop cancer. The lack of a family history of cervical cancer is not a predictor of cervical cancer and is not a reason to skip screening.

Myth #2: I don’t need to get screened because I don’t have any symptoms.

MythBuster: A screening test is done to find anything abnormal in otherwise healthy people who are not having any symptoms. When there are symptoms, a diagnostic test is done to find out the cause of the symptoms. Women with abnormal cervical cells aren’t likely to experience any symptoms. But abnormal cells can still be detected by screening. Women should not wait for symptoms to get screened. However, if you have any unexplained bleeding, don’t wait. See a doctor right away to find out why.

Myth #3: I don’t want to get screened because if I have cervical cancer it can’t be treated anyway.

MythBuster: Screening helps prevent cervical cancer. Screening finds abnormal cells on the cervix so they can be treated before they turn into cancer. It also helps find cervical cancer early, when treatment works best. Women who don’t get screened regularly miss the opportunity to detect abnormal cervical tissue early, when treatment is very effective.

Cervical cancer is preventable by screening and treating any abnormal cervical tissue early. The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends:

  • Screening with a Papanicoloau (Pap) test every three years for women aged 21 to 65 years.
  • Screening with a Pap and HPV test every five years for women aged 30 to 65 years.

Learn more about cervical cancer and other gynecologic cancers, and get resources to share from DHEC’s Best Chance Network and  CDC’s Inside Knowledge: Get the Facts About Gynecologic Cancer campaign.