A Community Effort to Improve Children’s Dental Health
FEBRUARY 4, 2011, LOUISVILLE, KY - -Over 120 children will receive free, comprehensive dental treatment today, thanks to Smile Kentucky!, a community partnership that addresses what the U.S. Surgeon General calls “the most common unmet health need in the nation.” The University of Louisville School of Dentistry and six dental offices will host children from Bullitt, Trimble, Henry and Meade Counties.
Dental students Lindsey Wealton and Leighton Kennedy offer free care to Cheyene Smith, a fifth grade student at Ekron Elementary.
In all, Smile Kentucky! will provide care for over 240 children in February and March to children from Bullitt, Jefferson, Henry, Meade, Oldham and Trimble Counties whose dental needs were discovered during free screenings at their schools. Many of the children have never visited a dentist; others have problems that have gone untreated for months. Smile Kentucky! will provide over $100,000 worth of free dental services, including cleanings, fillings and sealants.
Now in its ninth year, Smile Kentucky! provides dental education, free dental screenings and treatment to children in Louisville Metro and surrounding counties. This year, the partnership had to rethink its treatment approach due to a renovation project at the UofL School of Dentistry that has limited the available treatment area. Typically, Smile Kentucky! hosts up to 300 children in one day at the dental school. To overcome the treatment space issue, Louisville Dental Society members volunteered to treat over 100 children in their offices. The offices are donating their staff’s time and much of the treatment supplies. “Providing much needed dental care for these children is so important,” said Dr. Mark Schulte, a local dentist who is hosting children from Bullitt County schools. “It was important to make sure we still addressed the needs while the renovation of the dental school is underway.” Schulte along with Dr. Dennis Price, Dr. Karen Nation, Dr. Robert McDade, Dr. Greg Karem, Dr. Marcus Gibson and Dr. Steve and Dr. Ken Remmers will host the free treatment sites.
The UofL Dental School will provide much of the Smile Kentucky! treatment on three separate days (February 4, 18 and March 11) using its remodeled pediatric and orthodontics clinics for 150 children. The area features one new operatory, five new conference rooms and a new patient waiting room. The clinics also feature upgraded lighting, flooring and other decorative touches like new wall finishes. UofL continues the renovation on other areas of the dental school. The $40 million project is expected to be complete by this fall.
The American Dental Association calls Smile Kentucky! a model for community partnerships. Since 2003 Smile Kentucky! has provided treatment to over 2,400 children, free dental screenings to over 31,000 children and education programs to over 100,000 students. Smile Kentucky! complements a national program, “Give Kids a Smile.”
“By providing free dental screenings and treatment for uninsured children, Smile Kentucky! has made a significant difference,” said Kentucky First Lady Jane Beshear. “This program, through boosting dental health, may also support increases in self-esteem and overall wellness for the children.”
In addition to the dental treatment, over 20 businesses and community groups offer funding and support to Smile Kentucky! For example: Colgate provides 17,000 toothbrushes, Louisville Water Company coordinates logistics and educational activities, Texas Roadhouse and Chick-Fil-A provide food for volunteers, Bullitt County Health Department and NorthWest AHEC provide education, Sullivan Schein donates dental supplies and the Prospect-Goshen Rotary Club hosts an annual golf scramble that raises funds for follow-up care.
For more information about Smile Kentucky!, contact Kelley Dearing Smith at Louisville Water, 502.569.3695 or 533.5052 or Julie Heflin at UofL, 502.852.7987 or 502.648.9257.
Smile Kentucky! is made possible through a steering committee that includes the following:
Bullitt County Board of Education
Bullitt County Health Department
Colgate Bright Smiles, Bright Futures
Jefferson County Public Schools
Henry Schein Dental
Louisville Dental Society
Louisville District Dental Hygienists Association
Louisville Metro Department of Public Health & Wellness
Louisville Water Company
MCNA Dental Plans of Kentucky
NorthWest Area Health Education Center
Prospect-Goshen Rotary Club
UofL School of Dentistry
Smile Kentucky! 2010-2011 Fact Sheet
▪Thirty elementary schools in Bullitt, Jefferson, Henry, Meade, Oldham and Trimble Counties participate
▪240 children receive free treatment in February and March at the University of Louisville School of Dentistry and seven private dental offices
▪Value of the care exceeds $100,000
▪Smile Kentucky! program began in October 2010 with 17,000 students at the participating schools taking part in education programs and 3,500 students in grades 3-6 receiving a free dental screening at school.