As a state, Kentucky has historically had a reputation for poor oral health. A recent study ranked Kentucky 41st in the US for overall dental health based on factors such as dental habits and care, and oral health.

Although Kentucky was found to be in the top five for lowest dental costs, we fell in the bottom five for dentists per capita, highlighting the need for more dental providers throughout the state to increase access to dental care. In addition, the study found that poor oral health habits are prominent among Kentuckians noting high rates of adult smokers and consumption of sweetened beverages. Each of these factors contributes to negative outcomes such as high rates of toothlessness among the elderly population and reported dental pain among adults.

As a Commonwealth, we have grappled with solutions to improve the oral health system for decades. This is the reality that motivates the Kentucky Oral Health Coalition and its diverse membership in its collaborative oral health campaign designed to educate parents, activate policymakers, inspire health professionals, and engage the public to create optimal oral health for all.

As we wrap up National Children’s Dental Health Month, KOHC is committed to continuing the efforts to increase oral health advocacy, education, and awareness throughout the Commonwealth. We know that oral health is vital throughout the lifetime, which is why the Coalition works to bring oral health information and resources to Kentuckians of all ages. In addition, we aim to equip Kentucky’s dental and health professionals with the tools they need to best serve their patients and further educate around the importance of optimal oral health. Kentucky Oral Health Coalition engages in policy advocacy to fight for policies that are good for oral and overall health and improve access for Kentuckians, including dental coverage and care. Lastly, we convene a diverse group of oral health professionals, stakeholders, policymakers, students, and community members to engage in and support this important work.

It will take more than just one month in February to continue progressing toward our goal of optimal oral health for all. It will take dedicated and diverse partners with a collective voice to improve our efforts.

Will you join us in creating an improved oral health system across Kentucky?