LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 21, 2016) — Susan Cantrell has visited 10 schools on the coast of Ecuador during the past two days, administering a fluoride varnish on children’s teeth that has been shown to cut tooth decay by 80 percent. Teachers in Ecuador will administer the second round in six months.
Cantrell is volunteering with the Kentucky Ecuador Dental Health Initiative, a Partners of the Americas project. In 2002, Dr. Rankin Skinner and fellow volunteers with Partners started the Kentucky/Ecuador Dental Sealant Project, working with 15 clinics in the capital city of Quito and another 15 clinics in Winchester, Kentucky’s sister city of Ibarra and its surrounding communities.
According to a 2012 UK news release, dental decay in Ecuador is in the 85 percent range compared to 22 percent in the U.S., although it’s about 50 percent in Kentucky and significantly higher in some areas of the state. Skinner’s group trained 65 dentists to place sealants, and later, fluoride varnish, in each of these cities. After five years, a dramatic 50 to 78 percent drop in decay was noted.
Cantrell joined the University of Kentucky College of Education faculty in 2003. She is the interim department chair in the college’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction. Cantrell began her career as an elementary reading and classroom teacher and she earned her doctoral degree from UK. She teaches courses in reading methods for undergraduate and graduate students. Cantrell’s research is focused on teachers’ efficacy and development and the effects of classroom contexts on students’ reading comprehension and motivation.
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