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Study Highlights Prevalence of Tooth Decay in Kentucky Children

By | 2014-11-12T14:47:23+00:00 November 12th, 2014|Blog, Health|

IRHMapTooth decay continues to rank as one of the most prevalent chronic childhood diseases, especially in the state of Kentucky.  The Institute for Rural Health at Western Kentucky University completed a cross-sectional study in 2013, focusing on two main objectives in the bluegrass state: to assess socio-demographic differences between children affected and unaffected by decay, and to investigate the factors associated with the lack of treatment of this chronic condition. The Institute for Rural Health used mobile dental clinics to provide a school based sealant program to children between the ages of 6 and 15 and examined students’ teeth while doing so.

Shockingly, approximately fifty percent of the students in the study displayed tooth decay with an average of two cavities.  Older children that lacked insurance and lived in rural areas had the highest percentages of tooth decay and the greatest severity.  These findings suggest that major interventions are needed to reduce risk factors for children facing oral health disparities in locations like South Central Kentucky.

So, what does this study mean for kids in Kentucky? It means that we need to work hard to ensure children in low-income families have health insurance that includes dental coverage and that they have easy access to a dental provider who accepts their health insurance. We already know Kentucky has a high rate of toothlessness and that Kentuckians living in rural areas often have inadequate insurance and access to care. We also know many programs such as KCHIP, SMILE Kentucky and others have increased the availability of oral health coverage and care. But we need to look at additional opportunities to further improve the oral health of children across the state. We invite you to join the Kentucky Oral Health Coalition as we identify and seize opportunities to improve oral health together.

Read the article with the complete Institute for Rural Health study here.

One Comment

  1. Pamela Tate November 14, 2014 at 9:33 am - Reply

    Please share this information with the UK Dean of Oral Health!
    It is my understanding that there is powerful consideration of stopping the UK Mobil Units that go out into the schools due to the lack of profit.
    I am baffled that UK’s primary concern is making money, and not the fact that this program is making positive long term impact on our younger generation, by instilling the importance of good oral health, and the positive long term affects it is making on young minds.
    Kentucky has a horrible reputation of poor oral health care. If UK would consider the positive impact they are setting forth for generations to come, instead of a profit margin, the positive outcome can and will be tremendous and will speak volumes to our community that UK Dentistry is willing to cut their losses or find additional funding that will support the services provided.
    UK as a whole is a profit making business. I would like to think that giving back to the community that supports the goals and objectives that UK flourishes on is a drop in the bucket compared to the positive message they can embrace and be proud knowing they played a huge part in making a difference in the community for generations to come.
    As a lifetime citizen of Frankfort, Kentucky, being a small town and yet the capital city of Kentucky we as a community recognized and are addressing the need to increase oral health education, as well as making strides to remove barriers to oral health care. Franklin County Public Health and Franklin County Public schools have partnered with the UK Dental Mobil Unit to remove barriers to oral health care.
    FCPH wrote a grant for 10,000.00 which mostly has been used to install electrical outlets at all of our elementary schools that allows the Dental Bus to run off the school electric, and not have to use their bus generator so that the cost of the dental bus services are not near as costly as it could be. The UK Dental bus has been the one positive impact that we can see as a community that has provided ongoing oral health care where other programs have fallen through the cracks.
    Students are excited about going on the dental bus, dental caries and abscesses are addressed that otherwise go untreated, prevention services and oral health education as well as the fact that WE as a community are speaking volumes when we find it necessary to pull students out of class to take care of their oral health care needs, however if that is what we need to do to make a positive impact on our students for their future, than we will do WHAT EVER IT TAKES!
    I pray that the UK Dentistry Program shares in our passion of making a positive impact and changing the mindset of generations to come. It’s not always about the immediate profit, but the long term rewards that comes from our passion to make our state not just a state, but a united team, working together to make positive decisions that will influence generations to come.

    Pamela Tate, Coordinator
    Joining Hands Family Resource Center
    Frankfort, KY 40601

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