Maryland Dentists Serving Marylanders

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More than 175 years ago, Maryland established the world’s first school of dentistry. The rich history of dental medicine in our state has created the highest standard of oral care that carries into today. It’s why Maryland dentists are committed to maintaining the exceptional care that Marylanders have come to expect from their community dentist.

Maryland dentists are finding solutions that ensure every Marylander receives dental treatment by trained dentists. First and foremost, we are championing comprehensive adult dental Medicaid. Good oral health is imperative to overall body health, and Maryland is one of less than 20 states that doesn’t provide this benefit to its residents. We’ve seen the positive results after a renewed effort by the state legislature to increase funding for children’s dental Medicaid through the Healthy Smiles program. Nearly 69 percent of children who were enrolled in this program at some point over a 320-day period in the last reporting period saw a dentist. This ranks Maryland near the top in the country.

We would like nothing more than to see comprehensive adult dental Medicaid become a reality, just like the Healthy Smiles program. And, a study recently released by the Maryland Dental Action Coalition shows that it may not be as difficult as some may think.

This is especially true when you look at adult dental Medicaid alongside a program being piloted right here in Maryland. Several Maryland dentists created one of the most successful Emergency Department referral programs in the country. The program utilizes Community Dental Health Coordinators (CDHC), or Community Health Workers as they are often referred, to provide patients access to fully trained dentists who can detect problems that other providers are unable to see. The CDHC works with the local hospital emergency department to help ensure appropriate and cost-effective care for low-income patients visiting emergency rooms for tooth pain and helps coordinate a continuum of care for the patient to avoid future ER visits.

This way, we can treat the actual problem instead of simply managing the pain with medication, like opioids. And, with opioid abuse devouring whole communities, the more we can keep people out of a scenario where they could be prescribed more pain killers, the better. The work done in Western Maryland has reduced emergency department dental visits by a whopping 26 percent, saving millions of dollars.

As presidents of two major dental associations in Maryland representing dentists across the board, we’ve seen first-hand the good work of our member dentists and their commitment to all residents of this state.

It’s why we are greatly concerned about the legislation and the misinformation put forward by out-of-state special interest groups about the need for yet another mid-level provider, or advanced practice dental hygienist, in our state. These types of practitioners may be working in a state like Alaska where tribal nations often have little or no access to dentists. That clearly isn’t the case in Maryland. A two-tiered system of care where some of the most complex cases are handled by the least trained people is not what Marylanders want or deserve.

Maryland dentists are already finding solutions to provide the care that every Marylander deserves and expects in their dental care, instead of creating an entirely new tier of care. We’re betting on Marylanders to find the solutions to access and affordability. And, your community dentists are leading the effort.

Tami Dulan, DDS
President, Maryland Dental Society

Vanessa Benavent, DDS
President, Maryland State Dental Association

 

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