New dental law on the books for elementary students

Maura Austin gets ready for her dental screening
Maura Austin gets ready for her dental screening
Dr. Ann Greenwell
Dr. Ann Greenwell

By Jean West - bio | email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - If you have children going to kindergarten or first grade this year, there is a new law on the books that you need to know about. It means taking them to the dentist - but the good news is you can do that for free thanks to a program sponsored by the UofL Dental School.

Little Maura Austin is 5 years old, and starting kindergarten this year, which means she needed a dental screening to comply with the new law.

"There's a new legislation coming from the legislature requiring children entering kindergarten and first grade this fall to have a dental screening," said Dr. Ann Greenwell at the UofL Dental School.

It's a bold step taken by Kentucky lawmakers this year to tackle the problem of tooth decay in Kentucky. By passing a law requiring very young children to have a dental screening as they enter elementary school.

"It's a good thing getting children screened so that we can notify parents if the child has potential dental problems because cavities, dental cavities is the number one chronic infection that children have in the U.S.," said Greenwell.

A 2001 state survey showed that a high percentage of very young children may be in pain every day from dental decay. It's a condition that can affect their overall health and go unnoticed because they don't get dental exams. This legislation is designed to change that.

And the UofL dental school is ready to help. For free.

"They come to the school between 8 in the morning and 3 p.m. and we try to do them mostly on Fridays," Greenwell said. "And they come to the third floor of the Dental School.

Greenwell says parents just need to show up and they'll do the rest.

"They don't have to call and make an appointment to the pediatric clinic, and there's a little bit of paperwork involved,"  They need to fill out a consent form and we need the parent or legal guardian to come with the child to sign this paperwork. It takes about five minutes to do the screening and we have the forms to take to the school."

For Maura, it was quick and painless.

"Everything looks good in there," Greenwell said. Good job! And that's it."

So now Maura can start the new year with a pretty smile and healthy teeth.

Here's parents need to know about the screenings:

A parent or legal guardian can bring their 5- or 6-year-old child to the UofL Dental School each Friday between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. until Oct. for dental screenings at no cost.

The dental school is located at 501 south Preston Street in downtown Louisville. Keep in mind the office is closed from noon to one for lunch.

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