Colleges to Improve Dental Care in Appalachian Region

Dentistry Today


Parts of Kentucky may soon see major improvements in dental care available to residents.

The University of Kentucky, Morehead State University and the University of Pikeville announced plans to develop more home-grown students interested in pursuing dentistry. That way, they can come back to the area and provide the people with dental care, something that is a desperate need. The necessity for this infusion of dentists is because the area is rural, and some people don’t have access to dentists unless they travel far distances.

There will be about $650,000 poured into the project, $400,000 of which will come from the Appalachian Regional Commission.

A study in 2004 discovered that Kentucky had the most people over age 65 that were missing teeth. Also, more than 25 percent of residents had lost at least six teeth because of gum disease or tooth decay.

In this area of the country, around four out of five children have already shown some signs of tooth decay. There’ve been cases in which a young child has a mouth filled with decayed and abscessed teeth or children who refuse to smile because their smile is too embarrassing.

Some of the people in this area also don’t realize the importance of oral health. That’s why they wait so long to fix the problems as opposed to being proactive and preventing any problems before they could develop.

The scenarios involving the three schools are being discussed. There are various options on the table regarding the way the programs will be set up. But the priority is to educate more students about dentistry in rural areas so they can eventually become a dentist and open a practice in these rural areas.

Some numbers show that the amount of dentists in these areas is actually declining. Also, of the nearly 2,400 dentists in Kentucky, about 40 percent are 55 or older. It doesn’t bode well for the next few years.

That’s why this program is so vital to the dental health of future Kentucky residents.