Covington students in ‘dire need’ of dental care get free exams thanks to local grant

Up to 30 children from Covington Schools with long-term and extensive tooth decay will benefit.

Covington students in ‘dire need’ of dental care get free exams thanks to local grant

COLD SPRING, Ky. (FOX19) - More than a dozen kids from Covington Schools in Northern Kentucky receiving getting badly needed dental care — and they don’t have to pay a dime for it.

The fifteen kids all have some form of chronic dental decay. Their care and treatment will be spread out over the next four to six months. Thursday they were able to get free dental exams and x-rays.

An oral health access grant from The Deaconess Foundation of Greater Cincinnati awarded to the Northern Kentucky Health Department made the dental care possible. Up to 30 children from Covington Schools with long-term and extensive tooth decay will benefit.

Linda Poynter is oral health program manager for NKYHD.

“These are children that we have been monitoring for a few years, finding out they have no resources to go to for their dental treatment as almost all of them are undocumented,” Poynter said. “Therefore, they’re not eligible for Medicaid.”

Poynter explains it’s not that the kids are in the U.S. illegally per se, nor is the fact that many are undocumented a concern.

“We are not asking that question. It is never asked,” she said. “So basically, they need help. The schools have identified them as being in dire need, and because this is foundation money, they have allocated that we spend it this way.”

Dr. Eric Soper, pediatric dentist at the Pediatric Dental Center, says dental decay is the number one chronic healthcare condition in kids.

“Then, when you look at how this is broken down among socio-economic status and recent immigrants, those factors really amplify the amount of decay these populations deal with,” Soper said.

Poynter says interpreters, nurses and tutors with the Covington School District first observed the need for dental care among these students and related it to the district’s health coordinator.

“Working with their interpreters, they have close contact with the families,” Poynter said. “They just had no resources available.”

The kids will be reassessed in several months to see how their first round of appointments went. After figuring out how much funding is left, the plan is to provide another clinic for 15 more students by Dec. 1.

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