May 23, 2013

Maine doesn’t need new type of dental provider

Letter to the editor

I am writing today regarding a bill pending in the Maine Legislature that would create a new level of dental provider. L.D. 1230 is not the right solution for Maine.

We all know that everyone should receive routine dental care, but not everyone does. People don’t receive dental treatment for a number of reasons. Only when we close the gap between those in need of care and those who seek care will we begin to see increased treatment rates.

Maine’s dental workforce has the ability now to see patients in need of care. Ninety-five percent of Maine dentists are currently accepting new patients. Half of Maine dentists are enrolled in the MaineCare program.

All dental clinics in Maine also accept new patients with MaineCare. A recent survey found that 26 of Maine’s dental clinics have openings in their schedules and are accepting new patients.

Given the depth of our current workforce and documented open capacity to see more patients, the best solution to increasing treatment rates is to get those in need of dental care into these “ready and waiting” dental offices and dental clinics.

To this end, the Maine Dental Association continues to develop programs that bring patients to available dental providers. The programs include education, outreach and case management services.

Maine is a national leader in the delivery of dental care. We have an adequate workforce with the capacity and capability to treat more patients. We all should focus on the real problem of getting patients in need of care to the available dental offices and clinics that’ll care for them. Adding another provider type will have zero impact on access and treatment rates.

Dr. Robert Berube

Facial and Oral Surgery Associates


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