ROCKPORT, Maine — American Dental Association President Dr. Robert Faiella provided Maine dentists with an overview of the organization’s Action for Dental Health: Dentists Making a Difference campaign, designed to boldly address the dental health crisis facing America. The campaign aims to prevent dental disease before it starts and reduce the proportion of adults and children with untreated dental disease. The goal is to help all Americans attain their best oral health. The failure of the Affordable Care Act to address the dental needs of low-income adults was motivation for the ADA to launch the campaign.
“The ADA has long advocated for mandated dental benefits for all Medicaid recipients—adults and children—as one important strategy to improve access to care for low-income Americans,” said Faiella. “Congress missed a terrific opportunity to address this in the Affordable Care Act. Low-income adults were essentially left behind.”
Speaking at the Maine Dental Association’s annual convention, Dr. Faiella outlined the campaign’s three-part action plan: working to ensure people can see a dentist when they need one; strengthening and expanding dental health protections offered by federal and state programs; and enhancing awareness about the need for good dental health and the importance of prevention.
“Dental health is a crucial part of overall health. As dentists, we have a responsibility to fight for comprehensive dental services and oral health education for all children and adults,” said Dr. Faiella. “Our goal is to help all Americans attain their best oral health. Maine dentists understand the importance of this campaign and are already addressing the varied and complex issues associated with increasing dental access to more people.”
Maine dentists are working collaboratively with state government, health professionals, and stakeholders to develop solutions so even more people in need of dental care are able to receive treatment. Proposed solutions include reducing the number of patients who visit emergency rooms for dental conditions by referring them to dental offices and clinics; expanding education and prevention services for children in schools and programs, such as Head Start; increasing dental coverage for adults with MaineCare benefits; and establishing a dental module so the state’s Community Care Teams direct children to appropriate dental services.
“Each year, Maine dentists donate millions of dollars in dental services at their offices, at organized events and in free clinics throughout the state,” said incoming MDA President Dr. Demi Kouzounas. “Many of us donate our services silently, and we’ll continue to do so, because we believe it’s the right thing to do.”
MDA is a voluntary membership organization with a mission to provide representation, information and other services for its dentist members and, through its dentist members, promote the health and welfare of the people of the State of Maine.
Nearly 90 percent of the dentists practicing in Maine are members of the MDA. Approximately 80 percent of Maine dentists are general practitioners, and 20 percent are dental specialists.