Kentucky's dental disaster begins before kindergarten

JENKINS, Ky. — Dr. Nikki Stone received her patients in the gym. Her lap formed half the dental chair and an assistant's made the other half.

On this October morning, there was a 4-year-old whose two front teeth were rotting, a 3-year-old with six cavities, and another 4-year-old with 10. It's not unusual for Stone to see preschoolers with cavities in all 20 teeth.

"These are the kids who haven't been to the dentist at all," Stone said.

Stone brings dental care to Head Start preschool programs in four Eastern Kentucky counties. Her work provides a snapshot of how early Kentuckians' dental problems start, how much they hurt the state and its children, and how much more needs to be done.

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