Lack of dental care hurts

Lack of dental care hurts

We help to provide dental health tools for children in Appalachia because there is clear evidence that dental inequality hurts them in ways that many people can’t imagine.

You may know, for example, that there “are striking disparities in dental disease by income. Poor children suffer twice as much [tooth decay] as their more affluent peers, and their disease is more likely to be untreated. These poor-nonpoor differences continue into adolescence. One out of four children in America is born into poverty, and children living below the poverty line (annual income of $17,000 for a family of four) have more severe and untreated decay.” – Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General (Executive Summary).

But did you know that poor dental health has serious economic ramifications that leave communities stuck in a seemingly endless cycle of poverty?

According to the New York Times“[p]eople with bad teeth can be stigmatized, both in social settings and in finding employment. Studies document that we make judgments about one another — including about intelligence — according to the aesthetics of teeth and mouth.

About one-third of adults with incomes below 138 percent of the poverty level (low enough to be eligible for Medicaid in states that adopted the Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansion) report that the appearance of their teeth and mouth affected their ability to interview for a job. By comparison, only 15 percent of adults with incomes above 400 percent of the poverty level feel that way.”

In short, children in poverty are more likely to have poor dental health, and this ultimately makes it more difficult for them to find a job and escape poverty. Thus, the cycle continues, and continues, and continues.

This is why we take dental health so seriously. Because the future of children in Appalachia depends on it.

Why dental health matters

Why dental health matters

Poor dental health is not only painful for children, but is also correlated to persistent poverty. As noted in the New York Times – “Experts have long observed that people’s teeth both reflect and reinforce poverty.”

This is why we work so hard to ensure good dental health for children in Appalachia. Living in some of the poorest regions of the country, these children get stuck in a cycle of poverty that is due, in part, to poor dental health.

· Children without access to dental care must often go to the emergency room when decay has gone too far, missing days at school.

· Teens can find challenges entering the workforce, at times hesitant to seek work in a public setting where they feel stigmatized by their discolored or broken teeth.

To address this problem, we started Mighty Molars. With the help of our partners, we are able to distribute toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss, and information about proper dental hygiene. This ‘small’ investment pays big dividends for children in Appalachia, by providing better health and a brighter future.

By helping to make ‘mighty molars,’ we hope to help alleviate poverty, one smile at a time.

Arts and Culture in Appalachia

Arts and Culture in Appalachia

We support communities across Appalachia, including in Kentucky. This short video highlights the needs of the people of Appalachia and their resilience. We hope you enjoy!

 

Making teeth “Mighty”

Making teeth “Mighty”

For those in Appalachia who are struggling to put food on the table for their children and themselves, and praying they don’t get sick because they can’t afford the medical bills, dental care is almost nonexistent on their list of priorities.

The result, particularly in Appalachia, is that children develop cavities, even before their adult teeth come in. The impact of poor dental health on academic achievement is profound, and we want to set these children up for success.

This is why we created the #Mighty Molars program. We work with partners in Kentucky, West Virginia and elsewhere to provide children with “Mighty Molar” dental kits.

 

Each kit contains:

  • toothbrushes
  • toothpaste
  • dental floss picks
  • information about proper dental hygiene

Children will learn the importance of taking care of their teeth at a young age – before it’s too late.
Our goal is to remove barriers to academic success and health for children in Appalachia.

 

Utility Assistance Program Saves Woman and Four-Legged Best Friend from Homelessness

Utility Assistance Program Saves Woman and Four-Legged Best Friend from Homelessness

“Somebody does care ‘bout an old woman and her dog,” Ms. Stella told us after worrying about how to pay her power bill last winter.

She and her four-legged companion Joe literally could’ve been out on the street as public housing will evict a tenant if their electricity or heat is shut off. Joe had gotten sick and she made the choice to take him to the vet, and even though the vet gave her a very reduced price for the dog’s medicine and didn’t charge her for the office visit, for Ms. Stella $37 was the difference in being able to pay her electric bill in full.

“I know what would happen to me – they’d put me out and stick me in a home someplace,” she said. “I know what would happen to Joe too, a sick old dog, they’d kill him. He would never be adopted.”

“But me and Joe we need each other,” she added. “He wakes me up every morning and he is the reason that I do get up. You saved two lives when you helped me with that power bill.”

But that’s not the end of the story. Our partner there Caring Hands Ministries was able to put her in touch with a church group that will bring Ms. Stella supper once a week and visits with her.

And as for old Joe, Caring Hands reached out to the local humane society which is helping her with the cost of his food, medicine, and shots.

New Year’s Resolution: To Continuing Caring for Our Fellow Americans Every Day, All Year Long

New Year’s Resolution: To Continuing Caring for Our Fellow Americans Every Day, All Year Long

At the start of every new year, millions of Americans make resolutions such as to eat healthier and exercise more, but as the days and weeks of January pass by their resolve to keep those resolutions falls by the wayside as old habits return.

Such is not the case at Americans Helping Americans®. Each year, we resolve to provide after school and summer camp opportunities for kids, rehab, repair houses and trailers of the elderly and disabled so they can continue to live in the home they love, provide basic needs for our fellow citizens down on their luck for whom a pair of shoes, a winter coat – even a box of laundry detergent – is an unaffordable “luxury,” and much more.

And thanks to our supporters who year in and year out who resolve to make a gift to Americans Helping Americans® to benefit others in need, it’s a resolution we have been able to keep every day for over 20 years and with your help it’s a resolution we will able to continue to keep for many years to come.