Commentary: Dental care is overall health treatment. Mainers will need accessibility to it.

For above a year, the pandemic has demonstrated us how general public overall health guidelines can produce a domino impact, impacting people, colleges and the full overall economy. We have also seen how superior public wellbeing policy, these kinds of as prioritizing the COVID-19 vaccination rollout, has saved life, gotten individuals again to perform and allowed us to safely and securely hug our beloved types once more. But for many years, we have been seeing the negative impacts of an area of general public health and fitness that has not been prioritized here in Maine, and that’s dental care.

Dr. Douglas Huntley inspects a young patient’s mouth throughout a routine checkup in Skowhegan in 2017. L.D. 1501 would extend Maine’s School Oral Wellbeing Plan to provide all universities in the condition by 2025, utilizing federal funding to address the fees of supplying preventive dental solutions in faculties. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel, File

Maine ranks 2nd to past in the nation in the percentage of young children insured by Medicaid who receive any preventive dental treatment. Even among kids who have regular personal dental benefits, too many go with no treatment.

There are many reasons for this extensive-standing challenge. Maine suffers from a lack of dentists. In massive areas of the point out, it can just take quite a few hrs to vacation to a dental business office. In some areas of the condition, no dental offices are accepting new sufferers with MaineCare.

Dental disorder plagues so several persons in Maine that we at times ignore it is a condition we know how to avoid and handle. It is caused by a bacterial infection, not by inconsistent dental hygiene routines. The moment the sickness procedure begins, you are not able to brush your way out of it, and it will ultimately have an affect on your overall well being and properly-remaining. Brushing and flossing are essential applications to avoid the condition, but others, like fluoride varnish and sealants, are obtainable only by way of a hygienist or dentist.

The Legislature has a terrific option this session to enhance oral well being in Maine with a number of vital expenditures. For illustration, L.D. 996 provides a in depth dental advantage to MaineCare for older people, covering the complete variety of preventive and restorative care that persons require to keep away from dental emergencies and shield their oral health.

A different critical piece of this coverage puzzle is L.D. 1501, An Act To Protect Oral Health and fitness for Kids in Maine. This monthly bill directs the state to grow its School Oral Health and fitness Software to serve all educational institutions in the state by 2025 and to efficiently use federal Medicaid funding to support deal with the fees of providing preventive dental providers in educational institutions. It would also restore an oral wellbeing coordinator position in just the Maine Centre for Disease Control and Prevention to deliver public well being management to fulfill our people’s oral wellness desires.

For numerous families, insurmountable barriers existed to accessing dental treatment even in advance of the pandemic, and now those people barriers are even worse. Numerous dental places of work e-book checkups 6 months in advance, and families usually do not have the flexibility to consider time off from function for a dental checkup. Dependable transportation can also be a problem, specifically in rural Maine.

The Faculty Oral Well being Software offers a way for the dental profession and our point out to actively reach a lot more youngsters. Basically ready for much more individuals to exhibit up to dental places of work is letting also a lot of young children down. It is time for us to fulfill them midway. If we are genuinely serious about fixing this trouble, we have to have a practical college system that serves little ones where by they now are.

The state’s School Oral Well being Plan has performed this job for many years in Maine, but it has been hamstrung by funding and staffing cuts. Presently, only about a 3rd of educational facilities in the state are served. We have the chance to grow this system to be certain that no child suffers from preventable dental condition.

When we sacrifice our children’s oral well being to help you save a several pennies, we pay a substantially worse cost, and we pay back it in excess of and above again. Just as we are defeating this pandemic with superior public policy, we can make oral well being care available to all Maine households as a result of actions that handle the root (canal) of the problem. L.D. 1501 delivers a very clear path forward.

This is a winnable battle, and the alternatives are in the palms of the Legislature this session. Oral wellness is wellness, and dental care is overall health care.

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