Delta Dental of Kentucky participated as a signature sponsor and speaker at Kentucky Oral Health Coalition’s (KOHC ) 2015 Kentucky Oral Health Summit on November 20.
The summit brought together hundreds of leaders from diverse fields in the oral health community, including state and local policy makers, health advocates, health professionals, educators, and students, to increase the dental awareness and to develop strategies to deal with the widespread dental access issues in Kentucky. The creation of this event was intended to take action to ensure that oral health remains a priority in Kentucky.
Delta Dental of Kentucky’s president and CEO, Cliff Maesaka, MD, presented Governor Beshear’s office with the Kentucky Oral Health Champion Award. In addition, Maesaka spoke to the summit crowd about the current state of oral health in Kentucky. Forty-three percent of Kentucky’s children have severe early childhood decay before reaching the age of five, and approximately 39 percent of these children have never visited a dentist. In response to this need, he announced Delta Dental of Kentucky’s plans in funding a statewide project to research the oral health of youth in the Commonwealth.
“The last time an oral health surveillance was done in the state of Kentucky was in 2001,” Maesaka noted. “The third and sixth graders surveyed at that time are now adults. We all want to move the needle [to improve oral health], but from where? Part of our Making Smiles Happen initiative is to find out, what is our baseline? Where do we start?”
Maesaka announced, “Delta Dental of Kentucky is here to fund the first oral health surveillance that has been done in 14 years. Data should start coming back early next fall. At that point, we will be able to gauge the current condition of our children’s oral health in Kentucky and initiate strategies for improvement.”
Delta Dental of Kentucky stated they will be releasing more information about their project in the near future.