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Children’s oral health in Kentucky remains a pressing issue and is key to overall health and wellness

Kentucky Youth Advocates has released the 2023 KIDS COUNT County Data Book, highlighting opportunities to properly invest in our “kid workforce” – comprised of the individuals that impact a young person’s livelihood outside of their household – so Kentucky children can stay healthy, remain safe, and thrive.

A strong “kid workforce” including doctors and dentists, and those serving kids in their schools and communities, can ensure that kids are able to learn and play free of any pain in their mouth.

Children’s oral health remains a pressing issue in Kentucky, and is integral to overall health and wellness and affects a child’s success in learning and job prospects later in life. Poor economic security is attributed to decreased oral health in children and 44% of Kentucky renters live in cost-burdened households.

According to the 2023 KIDS COUNT County Data Book, only 51% of children enrolled in Medicaid or KCHIP received dental services in 2019 and many Kentuckians rely on Medicaid to afford regular dental care. Poor oral health is connected to various chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, as well as maternal health outcomes.

The 2023 KIDS COUNT County Data Book explores trends of factors such as smoking during pregnancy, low-birthweight babies, children’s health insurance coverage, and teen births.

The data book also takes a deeper look at the cost barriers to accessing dental care in Kentucky.

The average cost for an emergency department visit for dental pain is at least 8 times higher than the average cost of dental visit at $1,598 dollars while a regular dental visit is between $90-$200 dollars.

However, the limited availability of dental providers has left many Medicaid-enrolled Kentuckians with little access for care. This results in more emergency department visits for non-traumatic dental conditions. A solution highlighted in the data book is to increase the reimbursement rates for dental providers to expand the Medicaid network for dental care.

The Kentucky Oral Health Coalition hopes to increase awareness around health indicators and their correlation with oral health by highlighting detailed data that is available for every Kentucky county at www.kyyouth.org/kentucky-kids-count/.

If you missed the deep dive into the 2023 KIDS COUNT County Data Book, you can watch the recorded webinar here.

Kentucky Oral Health Coalition

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