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Nicole Kimmes is the interim dean of the College of New England School of Dental Drugs.
Final week, Maine joined 19 different states when it expanded Medicaid protection to dental care, making practically 1 / 4 million extra Mainers eligible for preventive and routine oral well being companies. However whilst entry to care is being expanded, Maine continues to face a scarcity of licensed dentists, which means that truly being seen by a dentist will nonetheless be tough for a lot of Mainers. Responding to this problem continues to be the animating drive behind the work of the College of New England School of Dental Drugs, which is able to start admitting extra college students subsequent 12 months.
UNE’s School of Dental Drugs was launched to handle the getting old dental workforce and the pressing have to construct a pipeline of well-trained dentists to serve Maine and northern New England. In 2010, Maine voters permitted a $5 million bond bundle to assist broaden dental clinics in Maine, with $3.5 million going to UNE to determine a dental faculty. On the time, labor projections indicated that extra dentists could be retiring than new graduates could be getting into the workforce by 2014. At this time, regardless of small positive factors, Maine nonetheless faces a dramatic have to construct its dentist pipeline. In line with the Bureau of Well being Workforce Well being Assets and Providers Administration on the U.S. Division of Well being and Human Providers, Maine presently has 93 dental well being skilled scarcity areas with a complete inhabitants of 373,553 folks. With the intention to meet the necessity for dental care in these geographic areas, we want 58 extra practitioners accessible and in a position to see sufferers.
The necessity isn’t confined simply to those geographic areas. In line with the American Dental Affiliation Well being Coverage Institute, in 2021, there have been 752 dentists in Maine to help a inhabitants of 1,372,247 folks. That is 54.8 dentists per 100,000 folks in Maine, whereas the nationwide quantity was 60.8 dentists per 100,000 folks.
Briefly, which means too many Mainers will not be in a position to simply and usually entry dental care, resulting in skipped visits, ignored points, and bigger long-term penalties when routine issues turn into emergency wants. At UNE, we take severely the position and duty our college students have in creating an oral well being security web for Maine residents, notably for many who are underserved.
Within the practically 10 years UNE’s School of Dental Drugs has been educating future dentists, we’ve graduated 377. Of these, practically 1 / 4 are licensed to observe in Maine. As of 2021, about 40 % of our dental drugs graduates who’re practising in Maine are doing so in underserved areas.
However even earlier than commencement, our college students are working to serve these most underserved. UNE dental college students, beneath the supervision of licensed dentists, have accomplished greater than 335,000 affected person procedures between the Oral Well being Heart in Portland and affiliated exterior medical websites all through northern New England. Virtually a 3rd of sufferers seen on the middle are coated by MaineCare. As well as, college students who serve in our established community of community-based training websites have enabled clinics to extend the variety of MaineCare sufferers who can obtain care; diminished affected person wait instances for appointments; and allowed for extra donated dental care or diminished charges for high-cost procedures.
We’re happy with how we’re serving our fellow Mainers, however we’re acutely conscious that extra must be finished. To that finish, we’re excited to be increasing the UNE School of Dental Drugs to welcome extra dental college students to our program. We’re presently renovating our Portland services to accommodate eight extra college students a 12 months by the autumn of 2023. Six of these college students will enroll in our conventional, four-year D.M.D. program, and two will enroll in our Superior Standing Observe program, which provides foreign-trained dentists the chance to turn into licensed within the U.S. in simply over two years. This can imply extra dental college students treating sufferers throughout rural and underserved areas of northern New England, and in the end, extra licensed dentists in Maine serving to to satisfy the promise of MaineCare’s growth to cowl routine dental companies.