The Need for Care
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The campaign hopes to bring attention to what a former U.S. Surgeon General has called a “silent epidemic” of oral disease affecting children from low-income families. The Surgeon General’s 2000 report found dental decay is the most common disease affecting U.S. children, occurring at five times the rate of asthma and seven times that of hay fever.
A 2001 Kentucky study found 29% of school children examined in the 3rd and 6th grades had visible dental decay; another 20% said they’d had a toothache in the past month. Oral health problems can affect a child’s overall health including speech, eating patterns and concentration in school.
As recently as 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that about 20% of children aged 5 to 11 years have at least one untreated decayed tooth.
While much effort has been made to improve access to care for children in Kentucky, in 2013 still less than half of those with Medicaid coverage had a dental visit.
The reasons for these health statistics are many and increased awareness of the issues is making an impact. Statistics shine a light on the challenges; healthy smiles shine a light on what works! Smile Kentucky! continues its work to improve the dental health of children in Kentucky through education, screenings and treatment.