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Metro Newsroom

A Community Effort to Improve Children’s Dental Health

Thursday February 10, 2011


On February 4, 2011 over 120 children  received free, comprehensive dental treatment 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 hosted children from Bullitt, Trimble, Henry and Meade Counties. 

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 donated 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 hosted 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.

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
  • Colgate-Palmolive
  • Henry Schein Dental
  • Jefferson County Public Schools
  • 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