Dental Care for 500,000 Michigan Kids

By Josh Paciorek | October 03, 2013

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley at Lansing's Fairview Elementary School

On Tuesday, the state added more than 64,000 children to Michigan’s Healthy Kids Dental program, bringing the total number of children enrolled in the program to half a million across 78 counties.  Children living in Ingham, Ottawa, and Washtenaw counties now have access to quality dental care.

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley spent Tuesday morning at Lansing’s Fairview Elementary School with students, teachers and faculty, celebrating the program’s expansion.

“Jobs and kids are the top two priorities for Gov. Snyder and his administration,” Calley said.  “This expansion of Healthy Kids Dental is another step forward in our efforts to improve the health of children in Michigan and put them on a path to be successful in school and in life.”

Half of all first-graders and 80 percent of 17-year-olds suffer from tooth decay, making it the most common chronic childhood disease in the United States.  Experts estimate that students miss 51 million hours of school nationally each year because of oral health issues.

The Healthy Kids Dental program -- a public-private partnership between the Michigan Department of Community Health and Delta Dental of Michigan -- is recognized today by the American Dental Association as one of five national models for improving access to quality dental care for low-income children. 

“In the very, very beginning, when the idea was first had that we need to make sure that kids in Michigan, all across Michigan, have access to dental care -- it seemed like an insurmountable task,” the lieutenant governor said.  “But, like a lot of big things, if you start somewhere and you’re faithful and if you continue to be faithful to the effort over the years, you can make a lot of great progress.” 

In 2015, another planned expansion will cover an additional 100,000 children.  To learn more about Healthy Kids Dental, please visit their website.