Bangor Daily News: The Promise of a New Type of Dentist

Bangor Daily News: The Promise of a New Type of Dentist

You might not be worried about your access to a dentist's office if you have private health insurance or can afford to pay for care. But if you're poor, or if you live in a remote area, the barriers you face make it more likely you and your children will delay getting preventive oral health care until it's too late.

The Bright Smiles dental clinic in Portland is seeking more volunteer dentists to help serve uninsured and low-income children. The number of children seeking care is growing, and some of them arrive already with dental infections. The problem is apparent in other parts of the state, too: Many people can't afford or lack access. Tooth decay is the No. 1 chronic illness for children, ahead of asthma.


An April study released by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation reviewed more than 1,100 reports about dental therapists and their work around the world and found that they offer effective care and improve access. “Numerous federal reports, the Institute of Medicine, states, tribes and foundations, such as the Kellogg Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trusts, have recommended exploring midlevel providers, such as dental therapists, as a way to solve the current dental access crisis,” the foundation wrote.

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