October 1, 2022

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Maine Voices: The time is now to rebuild Maine’s dental health care program

3 min read

You may well not assume significantly about oral wellbeing outside of your day-to-day brushing and flossing and 2 times-for each-calendar year cleanings. But for several Maine families, particularly those who have no dental coverage, there are few solutions for accessing standard regimen preventive dental care. Couple oral overall health treatment company workplaces are accepting new MaineCare sufferers, and lengthy wait around periods for acute treatment can turn a sore tooth into a wellbeing crisis.

L.D. 1501 would increase eligibility for the Faculty Oral Well being Software to all educational facilities in Maine. The plan at this time serves only a third of the elementary colleges in the state. Dreamstime/TNS

This is not a new difficulty, but the pandemic has made a lousy circumstance even worse. In 2020, only 40 p.c of young children with MaineCare had at least just one preventive provider, these kinds of as a cleansing or a sealant. This is a precipitous drop from the yr right before the pandemic, when only 57 percent of young children with MaineCare and 69 % of children with business insurance plan had at minimum one preventive assert. This fall in preventative treatment has outcomes, as pediatricians are observing little ones with sizeable and preventable dental disease.

This alarming craze is not just about teeth. Very poor oral wellness is correlated with bad school attendance and overall performance. Untreated tooth decay also causes infections and suffering that can make participation in each day functions like having, enjoying and understanding difficult.

The scenario has not normally been so grim. Maine’s dental wellness software at 1 time was robust, with an eight-individual personnel and a extensive technique to handle Maine’s oral wellbeing demands that incorporated college-primarily based outreach statewide. About the many years, cuts have still left no dedicated positions within the Maine Middle for Sickness Regulate and Avoidance, and the University Oral Wellbeing Software now serves only about a 3rd of Maine’s elementary educational facilities. For all those who are not lucky enough to show up at these faculties, the dental protection net is sparse.

Fortunately, we have an prospect to make certain that young children in Maine get the preventive dental care they need to be healthier and profitable.

L.D. 1501, An Act to Secure Oral Wellbeing for Youngsters in Maine, is laws that would develop eligibility of the Faculty Oral Health Plan to all universities in Maine. Moreover, L.D. 1501 would reestablish the role of state oral wellness coordinator, a position expected for Maine to obtain additional federal funding to fortify the state’s oral well being program.

These ways towards a coordinated technique and method could increase performance, shore up workforce troubles and streamline access to preventive dental services for the somewhere around 150,000 little ones and adolescents who attend community faculties in Maine.

Properly, each member of the Legislature’s bipartisan Wellness and Human Solutions Committee voted in aid of L.D. 1501 very last calendar year, and the Property and the Senate voted unanimously to advance the legislation. Regrettably, no funding has been supplied for the invoice yet, but lawmakers now have the chance to fund the proposal via the supplemental spending plan course of action.

This is a sensible investment in the overall health and foreseeable future of Maine youngsters. For fewer than $2 for each child, this method could maximize access to fundamental dental wellness treatment to all Maine’s children. It would also make the condition qualified for hundreds of countless numbers of pounds of federal grant funding that we are now leaving on the desk.

With a billion-greenback budget surplus and dental decay quickly progressing, now is the time to reinstate Maine’s crumbling oral overall health method. Dental care need to not be a luxury, and dental disorder is not a ceremony of passage. We have the equipment to prevent disease and prevent decay early. We implore Maine’s leaders to do their section and assist us build a technology of nutritious Maine children.


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