Let’s Smile About Oral Health Opportunities in Kentucky

downloadThe legislative session wrapped up in April and there are great opportunities to report for children’s oral health – on the state budget front, a piece of new legislation, and a new Governor’s initiative. We want to take a minute to highlight just one of the exciting wins for kids’ oral health during the 2014 legislative session.

On April 9th the Governor signed into law SB 159. This bill allows a school district or a Head Start program to contract with a licensed, not-for-profit primary care center to provide a school based dental care program in or on the grounds of a public school. Under previous law, primary care centers had to provide both primary care health services and dental care in order to be able to partner with a school.  This bill has the potential to increase access to dental health services to kids at school. According to recent studies, 42.8% of Kentucky children under 5 showed signs of severe early childhood tooth decay.  Between 2010 and 2011 40% of Kentucky children were on Medicaid, but only half of those children received dental care in 2010. We know that a child in pain cannot learn, and this bill will help keep kids in the classroom by making oral health care more available in the school setting.

Improving the oral health of our state will be a long road, but we are on the right track. We’ll be highlighting other great oral health wins for kids in the coming weeks so check back soon.

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