The UK College of Dentistry’s expanded dental public service initiative uses fully-equipped mobile dental clinics to bring dental care to underserved children throughout Kentucky. It is the largest dental education based, children’s dental outreach program in the nation.
UK currently operates a fleet of four mobile dental clinics and a dental outreach program serving elementary school children and Head Start children in more than 40 Kentucky counties.
A number of initiatives evolved out of these programs, including the Kentucky Oral Health Network (KOHN), an oral health disparities initiative of the UK Center for Oral Health Research; award-winning pediatric and dental public health partnerships with the Kentucky Department for Public Health and Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Blue Grass; and the regional dental program at the UK Center of Excellence for Rural Health in Hazard, KY. These initiatives are also now targeting Appalachia and other rural area affiliated with the UK Center for Clinical and Translational Science.
Since 2000, the College’s outreach programs and partnerships have received several national awards for collaboration and community engagement.
In the Fayette County schools, the dental health program has been successfully creating healthier mouths for elementary age children for over a decade by providing exams, cleanings, sealants, fillings and extractions. The mobile unit can be seen at schools with a free and reduced lunch rate of 50% or more for weeks at a time to ensure comprehensive care for children who are unable to receive treatment otherwise.
Students in the Head Start program also receive an exam, toothbrush (a new spin brush to take home), cleaning, and fluoride varnish treatments, resulting in an obvious decrease in tooth decay rates among these children.