Dental care everyone can sink their teeth into

A new Pew report released today shows that children in low-income families are struggling to find access to dental care.

The report points to two contributing factors: one being a lack of dentists on the whole, with around 40 percent of the industry nearing retirement; while the other stems from such a small percentage of dentists who participate in Medicaid. Michigan is no exception, ranking 7th in the U.S. for states who’s Medicaid-enrolled kids did not receive a dentist visit in 2011.

The Marquette County Health Department is helping curb that trend by providing four free fluoride varnish applications for families on Medicaid or MI-CHILD to help stop the decay process and protect them from cavities.

“The fluoride is a great piece. It does help, but what we’re really trying to do is educate the parents or the caregivers on how to take care of their children’s teeth. Again, the number one thing is to encourage them to see a dentist. Hopefully twice a year, but at least once a year to get them into that mode of doing it all the time, ” explained Rebecca Maino, a registered dental hygienist and health educator with the Marquette County Health Department.

Marquette County offers a bevy of dentists who accept either Medicaid for kids or MI-CHILD which allows low-income families to come in for a cut-rate visit and address dental issues that can escalate quickly if left alone.

“A lot of people have the attitude ‘Well if they get cavities they’re just going to fall out anyway,’ but it is a serious disease. Children that have the baby bottle tooth decay or early childhood carries, and they have it severely, need to be put in a hospital in an operating room under general anesthesia. The dentist then has to work on their mouths when they children are out. It’s very expensive. The children are in a lot of pain. It’s affecting their speech. It’s affecting their well-being. They can’t eat. They can’t talk as well. It’s just a self-esteem thing too. If you know something’s going on in your mouth you’re not going to be smiling or interacting with other children. So it’s very important,” Maino noted.

Pew estimates that over 830,000 Americans were treated in ERs for such conditions in 2009. In turn, states are then burdened with paying the lion’s share of those expensive bills through Medicaid.

Here is a list of Dental Offices who work in conjunction with the Marquette County Health Department to provide low-income care:

West Ishpeming: 485-5575 – Children’s Medicaid, MI-CHILD & Existing Medicaid Adults

Belpedio: 228-9290 – Children’s Medicaid & MI-CHILD

Berube: 228-6309 – Children’s Medicaid & MI-CHILD

Dental Association of Marquette: 228-9594 – Children’s Medicaid & MI-CHILD

Gerrish: 249-1040 – Children’s Medicaid & MI-CHILD

Jackson: 228-9070 – Children’s Medicaid & Existing Medicaid Adults

Kipka: 228-7087 – Existing Children’s Medicaid

Palomaki: 228-9115 – Children’s Medicaid & MI-CHILD

Skaates: 228-9592 – Children’s Medicaid & MI-CHILD, both on a limited basis

Buck/Ekdahl: 346-6349 – Children’s Medicaid & MI-CHILD

Marquette Dental Clinic: 226-9992 – Children’s Medicaid, MI-CHILD & Existing Medicaid Adults

Pediatric – Tyler: 226-3600 – Existing Children’s Medicaid, Siblings, and New Members under 3 years old; Existing MI-CHILD, Siblings, and New Members under 3 years old

LaFreniere: 475-9933 – Children’s Medicaid & MI-CHILD

Miller: 228-9333 – Children’s Medicaid & MI-CHILD

Pavlov: 225-0617 – Children’s Medicaid & MI-CHILD

Ruprecht: 249-1434 – Children’s Medicaid & MI-CHILD

Sawyer Dental Clinic: 372-9267 – Children’s Medicaid, MI-CHILD & Existing Medicaid Adults

Sutherland: 226-8186 – Existing Children’s Medicaid & Existing MI-CHILD

Wilkinson: 226-9935 – Existing Children’s Medicaid & Existing MI-CHILD

Gomerac/VanLandschoot: 228-4648 – Existing Children’s Medicaid & MI-CHILD

Upper MI OMSurgery: 228-7173 – Children’s Medicaid & MI-CHILD