BANGOR, Maine — What once was the ballroom of the NCO Club at the former Dow Air Force Base has been transformed into a state-of-the-art Dental Hygiene Clinic for students and faculty in the dental health programs on the Bangor campus of the University of Maine at Augusta.
Finishing touches on the new facility, located in the campus’s College Center building, were completed just days ago, Diane Blanchette, coordinator of UMA’s dental health programs, said during a dedication ceremony at the facility that drew dozens of people, many of them from the region’s dental community.
It will begin serving patients on Sept. 7, Blanchette said.
The new clinic replaces the cramped and aging former clinic in Lincoln Hall, Blanchette said. It offers 24 state-of-the-art operatories, or work stations, which is six more than were available before. Five of the work stations are equipped for dental X-rays, she said.
Dozens of well-wishers attended Wednesday’s dedication ceremony.
Unlike the former clinic space, the new clinic not only offers some of the latest equipment but also privacy for the more than 2,000 people from Greater Bangor who take advantage of the program’s low-cost dental clinic each year, Denise Astle, a senior in the dental hygiene program, said while leading a tour during Wednesday’s event.
“That’s important, especially when we’re doing assessments,” Astle said.
UMA President Allyson Handley agreed, adding that a specialty of the clinic is serving Mainers who have had limited access to dental care and those who have avoided dentist visits because of past upsetting or traumatic experiences.
She said that the new clinic, which was years in the making, represents the first time that the Augusta branch of the University of Maine System has sought — and landed — funding through a congressional earmark.
Handley credited members of Maine’s congressional delegation, U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud and U.S. Sen. Susan Collins in particular, for helping to make that happen.
UMA had hoped to obtain $300,000 in federal support but ended up receiving more than $600,000, she said.
The clinic is the centerpiece of UMA’s dental health programs, according to UMA’s website. It provides students with hands-on experience in patient care and with using the kinds of equipment they’ll encounter on the job after they graduate.
Appointments at the clinic, which is located in the College Center building at 201 Texas Ave., are available from September through April. Services include oral exams, scaling, polishing, fluoride treatments, X-rays, sealants, desensitization, denture inspections, youth orientation and athletic mouth guards. Reduced fees are available for UMA students and veterans. For information, call 262-7872.
Correction: An earlier version of this story contained an error on where the two women are standing in the photo. Denise Astle, a senior in the dental hygiene program at the University of Maine at Augusta’s Bangor campus, is on the left and Deidre Grant, a member of U.S. Sen. Susan Collins' staff assigned to health and education issues, is on the right.