The Kentucky Oral Health Program (KOHP) (formerly the Dental Health Program) has a long and proud history with the Department for Public Health. When Kentucky established a dental health program in 1928, it was the third state in the country to have a public dental health program.
One of KOHP's major efforts is in water fluoridation. In 1951, Maysville became the first community in Kentucky to fluoridate its water supply. Fluoridation has continued successfully since then. Today approximately 96 percent of our citizens are on a fluoridated water supply, making Kentucky a national leader. The American Dental Association, the Centers for Disease Control and the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors have recognized Kentucky's efforts.
The KOHP also offers a fluoride supplement program for preschool children whose home drinking water supply is fluoride deficient. The KOHP has limited number of health education materials available for the public and professionals.
In 1951, KOHP began its first community fluoridation efforts in Maysville. Today, 217 fluoridated communities serve nearly 99.9 percent of Kentucky’s population. Fluoridation is mandatory (KRS 211.190; KAR 902 115.010) for community water supplies serving a population of 1,500 or more. Community water supplies serving populations of fewer than 1,500 may voluntarily fluoridate. In 1994, KOHP became responsible for the enforcement of fluoride regulations. Staff in this program work closely with water plants through monitoring and technical assistance. In 2000, 99.2 percent of the 217 fluoridated communities were fluoridated at an optimum level.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information about your water supply. To find out more, go to My Water's Fluoride webpage.
Rural School Fluoridation
This program began in 1975. Its purpose is to provide fluoridated water to schoolchildren living in rural areas not served by a fluoridated water supply. This is done by installing equipment to add fluoride to school water supplies. Schools in this program participate on a voluntary basis. At its peak, the program served 150 schools and 40,000 students. As fluoridated water lines extend into rural areas, the number of schools in need of this program has diminished.
Today, the program serves 2 schools with approximately 876 students. Staff in the fluoridation program are responsible for installing and maintaining equipment and monitoring water samples. During the past several years, all rural schools have been fluoridated at an optimum level in accordance with program guidelines.
Kentucky began its fluoride supplement program in 1978. This program primarily serves children 6 months to 6 years old whose home water supply is low in fluoride. Providers are county health departments and private dentists and physicians.
The provider assesses the drinking water supply. If it is not from a known fluoridated water source (e.g. city water), a water sample kit is issued to the family. A sample is sent to the state laboratory for analysis. If the water is low in fluoride, supplementation may be required. Dosage is based on the level of fluoride in the water and the child’s age in accordance with Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.
The supplements come in the form of drops and tablets. Drops are issued to children between 6 months and 3 years of age while tablets are given to children 3 and older. Providers receive supplements and testing supplies free of charge. There is no cost to families to participate in this program.
Kentucky Oral Health Coalitions
In recent years, the Kentucky Oral Health Program received federal grants that supported 24 counties to create community coalitions aimed at improving dental health among children and adults throughout Kentucky. Currently, more funding is allowing up to 10 more coalitions to be established in Kentucky.
The announced awards are a component of the groundbreaking three-year initiative Gov. Beshear announced in fall 2009 with a goal of improving quality and access to dental care across the region, using $1.6 million in federal funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The other major component of the initiative involves developing specialized training for dentists who treat children.
The first series of grants awarded through the ARC and the Kentucky Oral Health Program in the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) provided $10,000 in start-up funding for oral health community coalitions in the following ARC-designated distressed counties: Estill, Floyd, Hart, Johnson, Knox, Lawrence, Lewis, Magoffin, Menifee, Metcalfe, Monroe, Robertson and Whitley.
The second series of grant awards is funded through HRSA's Targeted State MCH Oral Health Services Systems (TOHSS) program, which supports the state's capacity to expand preventive and restorative oral health service programs for Medicaid and KCHIP eligible children, as well as other underserved children and families. The following grantees will receive $10,000 of TOHSS seed funding: Anderson, Boyd, Franklin, Jefferson, Jessamine, Logan, Madison, Marshall, Pike and Woodford counties, as well as the Madisonville area and the Purchase District Health Department.
The third series of grant awards in ARC-designated distressed counties for Oral Health Coalitions are to: Bath, Clay, Harlan, Jackson, Lincoln, Morgan, Rockcastle and Rowan Counties.
The ultimate goals of both grants are to assure access to needed dental treatment and will begin developing the partnerships needed to help assure that dental providers and services are available.