Students entering the ninth grade had an opportunity in June to explore the dental profession, thanks to thePCHC Dental Academy offered by Penobscot Community Dental Center and UMA-Bangor.
The goal of the PCHC Dental Academy is to plant the early seeds of a career in dentistry. It is an opportunity to interact and learn from dentists, hygienists and staff.
The students spent time in a classroom setting, job shadowing dentists, hygienists and assistants, as well as receiving experiences at UMA-Bangor’s newly renovated and updated Dental Hygiene Clinic.
In addition, they received academic counseling to help them prepare for a career in dental medicine and encourage them to start taking the right courses in high school.
The aim, according to program coordinator Nicole Kelley, is to encourage youngsters from an early age to consider a career indentistry.
“We are looking to them to become part of Maine’s next generation of dental professionals,” Kelley said.
According to the Muskie Institute at the University of Southern Maine, Maine’s few dentists are concentrated in metropolitan areas.
Maine has far fewer dentists than the nation as a whole, with 48 dentists per 100,000 residents in Maine compared with 64 dentists per 100,000 throughout the U.S.
This more limited supply of dentists is heavily concentrated within Maine’s larger population centers. For example, Cumberland County has twice as many dentists per 100,000 residents as Aroostook, Oxford, Piscataquis, Somerset, Waldo, Washington and York counties.
PCHC is a nonprofit organization founded in 1997, and is the only Federally Qualified Health Center in Greater Bangor.
Its purpose is to ensure access to comprehensive and integrated outpatient health care services to those on MaineCare, Medicare, and those with or without insurance, regardless of ability to pay.