Program Aims to Improve Dental Health in Appalachian Region



School children in the Appalachian region of Kentucky will soon benefit from a new program. Governor Steve Beshear recently announced that a $1.25 million project will begin with the goal of improving the oral health of children in the area.

The program, called the Smiling Schools program, was funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission. It will provide fluoride varnish and dental education to about 25,000 children throughout 16 counties.

Students in grades one through five will have their teeth painted with two fluoride treatments during a four- to sixth-month period. The University of Kentucky Dental School will examine the children before and after the procedures to determine how effective the procedures were. The students in the program will also be afforded the opportunity to have dental screenings.

Programs will later be initiated to improve the awareness of people in the region regarding oral health.

Children in Kentucky suffered some kind of tooth decay at roughly twice the national rate in 2001, according to some studies. That same year, more than 46 percent of children in the 2 to 4 age group had some kind of dental problem that went untreated.

School-based dental programs are a good start in boosting the oral health of children.