Kentucky invests in prevention

By the CDHP team

Kentucky officials hope to strengthen children's access to dental care by working with local health departments to launch a program supported by dental hygienists. Julie McKee, Kentucky's dental director, called the initiative "a great leap forward" for deploying dental hygienists in schools and other community settings.

The state is providing one-year $160,000 grants to five local health departments to fund preventive dental programs that will serve schoolchildren in 16 counties. Gov. Steve Beshear said the dental access problem is "particularly bad" in Kentucky. “Hundreds of thousands of children in this state don’t see a dentist regularly and many not at all," he said.

Through the new mobile dental program, dental hygienists will offer basic services such as oral health assessments, fluoride varnish treatments and dental sealants. (Sealants are plastic coatings that are brushed onto teeth, and they have been shown to reduce shown to reduce tooth decay by up to 60%.) In addition to elementary schools, Head Start centers and other early childhood programs are likely to participate in the program.

Hygienists will work with parents to facilitate any follow-up care with local dentists.



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