FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - In a state known for its poor teeth,
Kentucky legislators may be looking to chomp down on the state's
dental health problem.
A plan sponsored by Rep. Tom Burch, and backed by the Kentucky
Dental Association, would require youngsters to visit a dentist
before enrolling in public school or preschool. In a state that
ranks among the nation's leaders in toothless adults, the hope is
to instill in children good dental health habits early on, Burch
"We're rock bottom as far as taking care of our children's
teeth," Burch said. "We've got a serious problem with that."
Currently, Kentucky ranks second in the country behind only its
eastern neighbor West Virginia for the number of adults over age 65
who have had all their teeth removed, said Gwenda Bond, a
spokeswoman for the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family
And, Kentucky had the country's sixth worst percentage of adults
who visited a dentist in 2006. While the U.S. average was 70.3
percent, only 63.3 percent of Kentucky's adults went to a dentist
that year, Bond said.
A study by the Kentucky Institute of Medicine last year found
that 37 percent of Kentucky adults were missing at least six teeth,
which is four percentage points higher than the national average.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)