Mount Desert Island Hospital has received a $10,000 grant from Healthy Acadia for its Community Dental Center, soon to be the first fully not-for-profit dental center on Mount Desert Island. Slated to open in January of 2014, the Community Dental Center will be located adjacent to the Hospital’s Community Health Center in Southwest Harbor. While open to all, the center will have a special emphasis on connecting underserved children to oral health services.
Healthy Acadia awarded the grant to the Hospital’s new dental health initiative in cooperation with the Downeast Community Transformation Collaborative, through funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in October. “This award from Healthy Acadia is great news for children of Hancock County,” said Art Blank, President/CEO of MDI Hospital. “These funds will assist us in providing essential oral health services to all of the children of MDI.”
Grant funding will support a school-linked oral health program that will provide island students with cleanings, sealants, fluoride treatments and early childhood screenings, all within the child’s own school. Tooth decay is now the most common chronic illness among school aged children, five times more prevalent than asthma. Here in Hancock County, the need for pediatric oral health services is particularly stark: with a population of more than 54,000, Hancock County has 25 dental practices—well below the national average. Children participating in Community Dental’s school-based program will receive two preventive screenings a year and those who require more comprehensive restorative services such as fillings or extractions will be referred tothe Community Dental Center facility in Southwest Harbor.
In addition to providing access to comprehensive, coordinated oral care to the children of MDI, the dental center will offer all residents and visitors the option to receive comprehensive dental services close to home. The center will accept Mainecare as well as private insurance. Recent medical research has shown that poor oral health is linked to increased hospital visits and is a major contributor to overall health. By integrating essential oral health care with primary health care at all MDI Hospital Organization Health Centers, Community Dental hopes to combat this trend.