Bowling Green—At the end of August, Casey Goetz and his staff drove to Pike County to provide dental care to the children in the local Amish community.
According to Goetz, “Even though our office is in Troy, we see a ton of Amish kids, and they historically have a lot of cavities and don’t take the best care of their teeth.”
Goetz opened his pediatric dentist practice in Troy last year. He noted there was marked increase in children getting cavities because they were staying home during the pandemic, and not caring for their teeth they way they should.
Goetz runs Cuivre Creek Pediatric Dentistry took the day off to do some outreach work for the Amish community. He and his staff went door-to-door asking to do checkups on the children.
“We have a lot of Amish kids that come to see us and they historically are high-risk for cavities. Most Amish kids have never been to a dentist,” he said. “We see most of them for the first time during their teenage years when they start having tooth pain. A lot of them don’t brush consistently, and they eat a lot of candy. By the time they come see us as teenagers, usually there are already permanent teeth that need to be extracted.”
Because his office is in Troy, transportation to there from Pike County is problematic.
“So we loaded up a bunch of toothbrushes and toothpaste and took the whole office up to Bowling Green. We went knocking on doors and offered free dental check ups for the kids, and handed out toothbrushes/toothpaste. We talked about brushing teeth and how not brushing can cause cavities. Most families were really appreciative and some scheduled appointments with us.”
Most of the Amish community was open to the free checkups, he noted.
“It was a great time, even in the 95 degree summer heat. We will definitely make this an annual thing—maybe even try to get toothbrushes and brushing routines in their schools. We offer special discounts to the Amish, just to encourage them to get their kids to us at an early age,” he said.
This was the first time Goetz and his team did this type of outreach since opening his office last October.
“I attended the Amish Thanksgiving Dinner at their auction barn in November. And I remember sitting there seeing hundreds of little Amish kids running around eating candy, and I thought to myself, ‘there are a lot of cavities and bad teeth in this community that need to be addressed!’ So I went back and typed up some flyers that listed out the details of my farm-themed office, the type of dental services I do for children, and a bit of my personal background. I have a lot of family in Bowling Green so I’ve been visiting the Amish stores for quite a while,” Goetz said.
This past spring, Goetz when around to all of the Amish businesses and a lot of the larger homes and passed out the flyers.
“We started having a few come in,” he said, “and I was really shocked at how bad it (the cavity situation) was, and made the decision to get more serious in doing my part to address the issue. A lot of these kids have broken and abscessed baby teeth and they just deal with them for years, and I just felt so bad for them.
In addition to the flyers, Goetz went door-to-door twice—in the spring, and then again for during the outreach program.
“It was nice to see that most families were really welcoming when they saw us. At first they were a little skeptical, like we were trying to sell them something, but once I reassured them that everything was free and we were just there to have a fun day in the community looking for obvious concerns, they warmed up to us pretty quick,” he said. “Most of the Amish mothers were at home and would go round up the kids, we’d line them up on the porch and have them sit in chairs and do the exams one-by-one with flashlights and dental magnifying glasses. We looked for and charted any abscesses, cavities, broken teeth, and bite problems. At the end, every kid got to pick out a toothbrush and toothpaste. We simply informed the parents about the major concerns we had, and what advice I offered for potential solutions—and if they desired treatment.
He noted that most of the families were familiar with his business.
“Word of our farm-themed office traveled pretty quickly. Many said that between housework, farm chores, and caring for their large families, they simply didn’t have the time and transportation to get to Troy for dental visits.”
According to Goetz a lot of the adolescent children are already working and have responsibilities.
“So it was challenging to get a look at those kids. Cost is generally an issue for medical procedures, so we try to give them discounts on dental work and do preventive procedures like sealants and fluoride treatments really, really cheap.
“After seeing 30-40 kids (we were only able to see a fraction of the kids in the community during our day there),” he said, “I determined that me looking for cavities isn’t really fixing the deeper issue…. I think next year I’d like to work on trying to meet with some of the school teachers and coming in to do a presentation on what causes cavities, why brushing is important, and how sugar can contribute to tooth decay. It’s a big job but I love working with these families. The kids are so well behaved for their age, and they just don’t complain when doing dentistry, which makes my life a lot easier.”