Smile Kentucky! celebrates its 10-year anniversary tomorrow, representing $1 million in free dentistry and benefiting more than 100,000 students.
"It's a wonderful program," said Arleta Watkins of Bullitt County Schools. "I've had children who've never had a dental exam before. They get that service for free."
The program serves children in Louisville and nearby counties. Since it began, more than 127,000 students in 143 schools and 11 counties have received classroom dental education, 35,000 kids have gotten free dental screenings at school and nearly 3,000 children have received free treatment.
Smile Kentucky! works with 30 elementary schools in Jefferson and surrounding counties each fall. Students receive dental education, and children in grades 3 to 6 get a free dental screening. Children without dental insurance or medical care get free treatments by going to the University of Louisville's School of Dentistry or private dental offices in February.
"Dental pain and infection is one of the leading causes of missed days at school and affects a child's ability to concentrate," said John Sauk, dean of U of L's School of Dentistry.
U of L is one of 30 agencies on the steering committee. Other founding partners include the Louisville Water Co., the Louisville Dental Society, Colgate, Sullivan Schein Dental, Northwest Area Health Education Center and the Bullitt County Health Department.
For more information about Smile Kentucky!, click here.