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

You may not think significantly about oral health further than your day by day brushing and flossing and two times-for every-calendar year cleanings. But for numerous Maine family members, primarily individuals who have no dental protection, there are number of possibilities for accessing common routine preventive dental treatment. Several oral health care supplier places of work are accepting new MaineCare individuals, and extended hold out moments for acute treatment can change a sore tooth into a health emergency.

L.D. 1501 would extend eligibility for the Faculty Oral Health System to all faculties in Maine. The software currently 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 poor problem worse. In 2020, only 40 % of kids with MaineCare had at minimum a person preventive support, these types of as a cleansing or a sealant. This is a precipitous drop from the yr just before the pandemic, when only 57 percent of small children with MaineCare and 69 percent of small children with commercial insurance plan experienced at the very least just one preventive claim. This drop in preventative treatment has penalties, as pediatricians are looking at children with sizeable and preventable dental illness.

This alarming development is not just about teeth. Very poor oral health is correlated with inadequate faculty attendance and efficiency. Untreated tooth decay also causes infections and agony that can make participation in day-to-day routines like having, playing and finding out hard.

The problem has not always been so grim. Maine’s dental health method at one time was strong, with an eight-person staff and a extensive tactic to handle Maine’s oral health needs that included faculty-dependent outreach statewide. More than the yrs, cuts have still left no devoted positions inside the Maine Centre for Sickness Manage and Avoidance, and the College Oral Health System now serves only about a 3rd of Maine’s elementary faculties. For all those who are not lucky plenty of to show up at these faculties, the dental protection net is sparse.

Fortunately, we have an possibility to ensure that small children in Maine get the preventive dental care they have to have to be healthy and prosperous.

L.D. 1501, An Act to Protect Oral Health for Small children in Maine, is laws that would extend eligibility of the School Oral Health Software to all educational facilities in Maine. In addition, L.D. 1501 would reestablish the role of point out oral health coordinator, a posture required for Maine to access supplemental federal funding to improve the state’s oral health program.

These measures towards a coordinated system and method could improve performance, shore up workforce issues and streamline accessibility to preventive dental solutions for the somewhere around 150,000 kids and adolescents who attend general public colleges in Maine.

Properly, each individual member of the Legislature’s bipartisan Health and Human Providers Committee voted in aid of L.D. 1501 very last yr, and the Dwelling and the Senate voted unanimously to advance the laws. Regrettably, no funding has been provided for the monthly bill still, but lawmakers now have the option to fund the proposal by the supplemental price range method.

This is a intelligent investment in the health and long run of Maine kids. For fewer than $2 for each baby, this application could enhance obtain to standard dental health care to all Maine’s small children. It would also make the state qualified for hundreds of thousands of dollars of federal grant funding that we are now leaving on the table.

With a billion-dollar finances surplus and dental decay quickly progressing, now is the time to reinstate Maine’s crumbling oral health method. Dental treatment should really not be a luxury, and dental ailment is not a ceremony of passage. We have the tools to stop condition and halt decay early. We implore Maine’s leaders to do their element and assistance us develop a technology of healthy Maine young children.


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