Sick of all the bad facts about Kentucky’s health? Here’s encouraging news about oral health and drug treatment

Despite the plethora of bad news about Kentucky’s poor health status, there are many positive initiatives for Kentucky’s oral health and substance abuse treatment, which were stories buried under health news headlines about Medicaid expansion and low health rankings.

The Kentucky Board of Dentistry recently established the position of public heath dental hygienist, permitting hygienists to go into Kentucky schools to assess teeth on the front lines, which will provide basic preventive dental care to underserved kids with tooth problems through local health departments, Al Smith, left, reports in an opinion piece for the Lexington-Herald Leader.

“These hygienists will be able to do school fluoride varnish programs, place sealants, refer kids in pain, and promote dental health programs (like brushing and better nutrition) in the schools without being supervised by a dentist,” Dr. Rankin Skinner, director of the Clark County Dental Health Initiative, told Smith. “I think this is a major step in developing dental health program like ours across the state and moving our kids towards better health in general.”

The initiative, comprising 17 dentists and 127 volunteers, was selected as a national model by a national association of all the health departments. “It isn’t often that a private volunteer program in Kentucky sets a national standard,” Skinner told Smith.

Meanwhile, in Florence, Kentucky’s first lady, Jane Beshear, a Democrat, joined her Republican co-chair of Recovery Kentucky, Lexington homebuilder Don Ball, to celebrate the Brighton Recovery Center’s fifth birthday and nearly 800 graduates.

Brighton is one of the 10 new homes for Recovery Kentucky, a program that is also becoming a national model, Smith writes. Since its inception during the Fletcher administration, the program has provided supportive housing and addiction recovery programs to over 10,000 men and women, writes Smith.

Beshear said the next steps are for her and Ball to create more drug-free housing and jobs for graduates of the program, Smith reports. This goal creates hope for other successful initiatives and shines a ray of light at the end of a dark and dreary tunnel.

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