Paducah students participate in oral health screening

When was the last time you went to the dentist?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says tooth decay is one of the most common chronic diseases in American kids, ages 6 to 11. It’s also very preventable. However, if cavities are not treated, the CDC says tooth decay can cause infection and can lead to problems with learning.

In a 2001 survey by the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services Department for Public Health, 4.5 percent of parents in western Kentucky said their child had never gone to the dentist. More than 22 percent said they were unable to get their children the care they need.

About 15 years after this survey, dentists are traveling across the state in hopes of updating the numbers. On Wednesday, they were at Clark Elementary School in Paducah screening third-graders.

Audrey Pullen says she’d rather spend her day at the dentist than doing homework.

"My parents have false teeth, so they work really hard on me to brush my teeth, floss and rinse," says Audrey.

All that hard work has paid off, because Audrey says she’s never had a cavity.

"So, I don’t know what it’s like," says Audrey.

More than a dozen students, including Jnaz Adams, met with a dentist on Monday for an oral health screening.

"I can make sure my teeth are in good health, because I don’t know when I’ll go to the dentist again," says Jnaz.

It’s not just about brushing your teeth. It’s about brushing them properly, but Audrey says it’s a subject that they don’t really touch on in school. She says if more kids talk about brushing and flossing, the more teeth they’ll have in the future.

About 1,800 students across Kentucky participated in this year’s screening. Parents also filled out a survey answering questions about their child’s oral health. The data collected is scheduled to be released this fall by Kentucky Youth Advocates. The study is being funded by Delta Dental of Kentucky.