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U of L School of Dentistry takes care of teeth around the community

About 65 percent of kids in Kentucky have had decay or have a rotting tooth in their mouths. Dentists say that percentage is too high.

Lee Mayer, Director of Community Dental Health

"One reason is access to care. Whether a dentist is unavailable or they have no insurance or ability to pay."

Lee Mayer is the Director of Community Dental Health in U of L's School of Dentistry. He says other factors contribute to poor dental health in kids. Some rural areas don't have fluoride in the water supply and some kids sip too many sugar-filled drinks, which pound the teeth with bacteria. That's why dental school students work in several outreach programs, such as Smile Kentucky. This program brings in more than 300 children from Louisville and surrounding counties for dental treatment.

Mayer continues

"Children who lack insurance and have dental needs are the ones invited to the dental school for treatment."

The dental students work with local dentists and other volunteers during Smile Kentucky. But there can be up to 60 requests a month for dental outreach programs. Mayer says the students are required to do many community service projects during their time in school.

Mayer adds

"It's important because if they don't do these programs, who is?"

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