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Children’s teeth cared for at Main Street Physicians

Main Street Physicians is getting a pediatric nurse practitioner, thanks to the Sentara Health Foundation, starting next week.

“We’ve been talking about this for the last year and Sentara made it come true for us,” said Angela Futrell, chief executive officer of Peninsula Institute for Community Health, which owns the practice.

Main Street Physicians has offered family health care and dentistry for the past three years, a program put in place by the Obici Healthcare Foundation.

“We have provided family practice to serve family members, ages 0 to 100,” said Valda Branch, chief operating officer of Peninsula Institute for Community Health. “But we’ve had some parents who prefer to have someone specialize in pediatrics. We’re excited to be able to provide them that service now.”

Carolyn Alexander, the new practitioner, has 11 years of experience she will bring with her to Main Street. She will start April 5.

“She’s been providing services in our other offices for years,” Futrell said. “Making the transition to bring her over to Main Street was a no-brainer. She has a good record in pediatrics in our Newport News office. It was the obvious choice.”

In addition to being able to provide more specific children’s health care, administrators hope the new addition will help strengthen the pediatrics services and children’s dentistry.

“We see very few children day-to-day,” Futrell said. “We’d like to increase our pediatrics patients both in medical and dental. Dental is an area most parents unintentionally neglect. Medical treatment is often the priority, but it’s so important to start oral health care at an early age, as well.”

Just because many dental problems aren’t critical in children doesn’t mean they can’t lead to critical problems.

Children need preventative dental health care — like sealant and fluoride — to prevent big problems when they’re older.

Branch pointed out that “we see a lot of dental patients whose oral health care was neglected growing up,” she said. “Now, we have no choice but to extract a tooth.”

If care had been taken earlier, that might not be a necessity.

“Gum disease and poor oral health leads to more extensive issues,” Branch continued. “It can exacerbate conditions like diabetes and hypertension.”

While the two — medical and dental — are often seen as separate issues, they interact and can cause problems for one another.

Administrators stressed that having both services at the same location makes it easier for parents to access both services for their child, which makes their chances of all-around health that much better.

“People don’t often connect the two issues,” Branch said. “But having both at the same location, we’re able to provide the services for the children and education for the parents. It makes the follow through that much easier.”