WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) — February is National Children’s Dental Health Month.  

Personal finance website, Wallet Hub, released its 2023 report on States with the Best & Worst Dental Health, and the results might shock you.  

From those statistics released, West Virginia ranks 49th for worst dental health in the nation. 

Wheeling Health Right says poor dental health in our state is directly linked to the lack of free aid.

West Virginia is the third poorest state in the nation. In 2022, almost 17% of our population lived at or below the poverty line.  

In fact, nearly 500,000 people are covered by Medicaid in the Mountain State.  

Until recently, Medicaid dropped preventative dental care for those over the age of 18.  

This lack of dental coverage has left many with poor dental and physical health. 

Wheeling Health Right’s Dental Clinic Coordinator Tracy Kaiski says by the time patients make it to their clinic, they must do full extractions to prevent further health complications.  

“We can’t help them with root canals and crowns. We basically have to extract. Because they haven’t seen a dentist probably since they were 18 when Medicaid dropped them, and they didn’t have Medicaid coverage for preventative dental. So, they didn’t pay for it out of pocket. They didn’t go get preventative dental which led them down to it being too late for them and then we have to extract.”

Tracy Kaiski | Dental Clinic Coordinator, Wheeling Health Right

Once the patient has healed from the extractions, Kaiski fits them for dentures, renewing their smile and their confidence.  

She says that everything we do is through our mouth. If someone is having dental health issues, it is not uncommon to suffer from other health problems.  

Kaiski says being able to provide this care means so much to her, but seeing her patients smiling and becoming active in the community is what makes her the happiest.  

Since the start of their dental clinic in 2015, Wheeling Health Right has provided nearly 3 million dollars in free dental care.  

If you’re interested in becoming a patient at Wheeling Health Right, you can give their office a call at (304) 233-9323.