The NYU College of Dentistry Henry Schein Cares Global Student Outreach Clinic has been coming to Machias and those visits are making a noticeable difference in the lives of the children getting care.
A group of students from the Rose Gaffney School in Machias were in third and fourth grades when the clinics began. Those working with the students say the impact is nothing short of amazing. ”It was heartbreaking to look in their mouths and see all of the decay” says Teresa Alley of the Washington County Children’s Program which is now a division of United Cerebral Palsy. “We knew they were in pain and needed more extensive treatment but we just had to watch it get worse year after year.” Alley works on the “Tooth Ferry” van which provides sealants for the children at area schools and head start programs. Alley says now she sees a difference. “To look in a mouth and not see big holes is breath taking.”
Most people consider tooth decay an inconvenience but there are many health officials who say it’s much more. According to the surgeon general, low income children lose about 51 million school hours each year to dental related illness. They are 12 times more likely to miss school, play or enrichment times as compared to higher income children with regular access to dental care. Dental pain and suffering can also lead to eating, speaking and socialization problems. Once adults, children with severe oral health problems have a higher incidence of heart and lung disease and it can make diabetes worse. There are other costs associated with decay. Expensive emergency room visits to take care of infections and lost work days for parents are just a couple of them.
The dental clinic will be returning April 22nd through the 27th. It will be closed on Thursday, April 25th. It is held at the Lee Pellon Center located at 90 Main Street in Machias. The event is open to anyone having trouble accessing dental care. It is not meant to replace regular care they are already receiving. Services are provided at no cost but insurance/MaineCare will be accepted when it’s available. Complete care is available for children. Adults are seen for emergency care on a walk- in basis. The program is made possible by Delta Dental of Maine, Northeast Delta Dental Foundation and Henry Schein Cares. The partners involved in the planning and implementation include NYU College of Dentistry, Caring Hands of Maine, Washington County Children’s Program- a division of United Cerebral Palsy, Washington Hancock Community Agency and Child and Family Opportunities. For more information please call 255-3426.