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Lawmakers Seek Ways to Improve Oral Health for Kentucky Kids

LRC Public Information

Kentucky lawmakers are searching for ways to improve oral health among the state’s children, with a particular emphasis on lower income families. The matter came before the Senate Health and Welfare Committee last week. 

Senator and Doctor Ralph Alvarado says dental varnish has helped fight tooth decay his county. “It’s a dollar 20 per child per year in the school. They don’t have to have a dental hygienist. They don’t have to have anybody who’s a dentist or have any training, just someone who knows how to apply it. And they’ll bring classes in, sit the kids down, and apply that varnish. Our cavity rates in Clark County Plummeted.”

Over half of the children in Kentucky on Medicaid do not receive annual oral health services. That’s according to Margaret Langelier with the National Oral Health Workforce Research Center. She testified last week before the state Health and Welfare Committee. “Taken as a whole these data provide a concerning picture of oral health disparities in Kentucky related to multiple factors including socio-economic status, level of education, race, ethnicity, and geography,” Langelier said.

Committee Chair Julie Raque Adams says there’s no particular legislation related to Medicaid and children’s oral health. Still, she says attention can be given to Medicaid reimbursement levels.

The committee took no action last week.

Stu Johnson is a reporter/producer at WEKU in Lexington, Kentucky.
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