There’s plenty to smile about while living in Appalachia. Your friends and family are nearby and life slows down a bit as the mountains keep you protected from the hustle and bustle of city life. One thing that is no smiling matter, however, is the improper care of smiles caused by poverty.
According to Kentucky Health Facts, 43% of residents living in Lee County Kentucky have lost 6 or more teeth and 39% have not seen a dentist in the last 5 years. Families simply do not have the means to provide their little ones with proper dental care.
“It is important that we start hygiene habits early and at a young age, teaching our children about dental care, as it is a precursor to many other health problems,” says Lee County Family Resource Center Director, Sherry Lanham.
Americans Helping Americans has been supplying countless children with Mighty Molar dental kits for years now, ensuring as many as we can receive their own toothbrush, two tubes of toothpaste, floss, and a schedule to keep track of their brushing schedule. The price is only $7 per kit.
“We service families who all share one toothbrush. Five in a family, all using one toothbrush,” noticed L.A.M.P Executive Director, Mary Mauricio.
It is haunting to hear stories like this from our partners in central Appalachia, but the distribution of these dental kits has been a success! The kits are given to schools to hand out to their students and any remaining are sent to surrounding counties. Dental clinics at the Department of Health are also working harder to make sure oral care is met by performing demonstrations in schools.
“In our afterschool programs, we make sure all students brush their teeth after serving them a hot meal, right before getting down to their homework,” reports Big Creek People in Action’s Marsha Spriggs.
Many children have told us upon receiving their very own Mighty Molar dental kits that it was their first time having their own set of dental floss and toothbrushes.
One way of changing the public misconception of Appalachian oral care is by providing children living in Kentucky, Georgia, Tennessee, and West Virginia with the tools they need to attain proper dental hygiene. Mighty Molar dental kits create this lasting change that children can appreciate now and in the future.