BANGOR--Penquis Community Action Program has received funding to help establish a dental clinic for under-served residents of Penobscot County. A $50,000 grant from the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation, a $10,000 grant from Northeast Delta Dental Foundation, and a $2,500 grant from the Maine Community Foundation's Maine Charity Fund have been awarded to Penquis CAP, which is accepting funds for the project on behalf of the Penquis Dental Access Coalition. The coalition is a group of dental and medical providers, educators and consumers working to increase access to dental care in Penobscot and Piscataquis Counties.
Plans for establishing the clinic are the result of a one-year planning process funded by the Department of Human Services. Once operational, the clinic will serve residents of Penobscot County who are uninsured, underinsured or on Medicaid/Cub Care. The clinic will increase its capacity over a three-year period, from a part-time dental clinic in year one to a full-time dental clinic in year two to a full-time dental clinic and full-time outreach program in year three. An estimated 4,500 individuals will be served annually.
Persons with poor dentition are at higher risk for malnutrition, generalized illness, infection and even heart disease. Those most at risk for oral health problems are on both ends of the age continuum. Untreated cavities are the most common chronic disease of childhood, five times more common than asthma, affecting children's ability to speak, learn, eat and grow. Older adults who do not receive regular care can be at increased risk for serious oral diseases such as oral cancers.
A needs assessment was completed in late spring of 2001 to evaluate the oral health problems of Penobscot County's under served populations. Of those answering the survey, 81% of respondents indicated that they, or a member of their family, had needed dental care at some point and been unable to afford it. Sixty-four percent (64%) of respondents reported cost as the primary reason for not seeking regular dental care.
"The need for increased access to dental care is critical," said Laurie Eddy, director of Health Services for Penquis CAP. "We are grateful for the generosity of the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation, Northeast Delta Dental Foundation and Maine Community Foundation for their help in establishing the clinic. These foundations are well known for investing in community projects that increase the quality of life for Maine residents.
We know this project will do just that."
For more information about the dental clinic, call 973-3640.
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