I have spent 35 years in Maine as a board certified pediatric dentist, trying to provide dental care to as many children as I could. Too many of these children came to me with dental disease that could have been prevented through solutions like the one proposed by L.D. 1501: “An Act to Protect Oral Health for Children in Maine,” which would expand Maine’s School Oral Health Program to serve all schools.
It can be incredibly difficult for children to get the dental care they need. Barriers abound for parents, from securing transportation, to getting time off from work, to finding a dentist who accepts their insurance or paying out of pocket for the cost of appointments. It is time to reach out and bring care to where the children are, especially basic preventive services like screenings, fluoride varnish, and sealants that can be provided quickly and effectively right in the school setting by a hygienist.
We need to create a culture in Maine where we recognize oral health as critical to overall health and where we ensure oral health is a right for all children in Maine.
Given how remarkably effective prevention and early intervention treatments can be, this need not be a pipe dream. Maine legislators can help set children up for a healthy childhood by ensuring that L.D. 1501 is funded in the supplemental budget.
Stephen C. Mills, DDS