Wednesday, August 29, 2001

Dental-care kits donated to schools

By Lori Hayes
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Free teeth and dental care guides are coming to Northern Kentucky schools.

        Through its new “Teeth-on-the-Go” program, Louisville-based Delta Dental Plan of Kentucky is distributing free dental-care kits to public elementary schools in Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties.

        The kits, which include large model teeth sets and toothbrushes, are designed to help schools teach students about proper dental hygiene. The $275 kits also contain a video, sing-along tape, teacher's guide and four children's books.

        “It's not a small investment, but it's worthwhile,” Dr. Cliff Maesaka, a dentist and chief executive officer of Delta Dental Plan of Kentucky, said of the program. “Early childhood dental education pays great dividends as people get older. People will have fewer problems if they take care of their teeth early.”

        Kentucky is below average on the dental-care awareness front, Dr. Maesaka said. Nationally, 40 percent of employers provide dental benefits to their employees. In Kentucky, that number is 31 percent.

        Delta Dental, part of the nation's largest dental insurance company, launched the education program last May in Jefferson County schools with great success, Dr. Maesaka said.

        “We weren't able to keep the kits in stock,” he said.

        The company is bringing its efforts to Northern Kentucky next month, with plans to give two to three kits to each school district to make available to teachers. The program is aimed at second- through fourth-grade teachers, whose students are at the age when they start brushing their own teeth.


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