Changing Oral Health in Wirt County

The state of West Virginia has been working in recent years to address distinct disparities in oral health among its residents. Especially in vulnerable populations like children and the elderly, the incidences of tooth decay, gum disease, and dental decay have been high.*

According to most-recently available data, it was found that 56 percent of third graders in West Virginia experienced tooth decay, with 21 percent of these kids having untreated cavities. Meanwhile, kids whose dental coverage was through Medicaid, rather than through the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program or private insurance, were found to be more likely to experience tooth decay.*

To change oral health in its community, Coplin Health Systems brought dental care to the kids who needed it most. Read below to learn how the team delivered preventive care and oral hygiene supplies to help children have healthier smiles.

Coplin Health Systems has a portable dental unit that serves 18 schools in Jackson County and Wirt County in West Virginia, and Meigs County, Ohio. One hygienist travels to all of these schools to provide preventive dental services.

The preventive services include cleanings, sealants, screenings, fluoride treatments, and digital x-rays. If a child has any form of dental insurance, there is no charge. However, if the child does not have dental insurance, the treatment costs only $20.

A lot of the children treated do not have adequate transportation, therefore the portable dental unit is often the only source these children have to receive preventive dental services.

Of the three counties, Wirt County is the most rural and poorest. Most of the children treated in Wirt County are on Medicaid. Unfortunately, some of the children do not even have running water in their homes.

When the hygienist cleans their teeth, the children will often say that they do not have a toothbrush, so after each visit children are sent home with a bag  from Coplin Health Systems and the Wirt County Family Resource Network. The bags were filled with oral hygiene supplies provided by the Henry Schein Cares Foundation.

These bags were sent home to less-fortunate children of Wirt County before Thanksgiving and Christmas to ensure that the children have the proper oral hygiene supplies during their school breaks.

Coplin Health Systems would like to thank the Henry Schein Cares Foundation for providing us with the much-needed supplies for the children in Wirt County.

*Find more statistics and read the full Oral Health State Plan 2.0, prepared by West Virginia’s Department of Health & Human Resources, published in 2016.

Coplin Health Systems was supported by the Henry Schein Cares Foundation’s Health Kit Outreach program.