Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Doctors becoming dentists in dentist-short Maine

As a shortage of dentists continues to affect Maine, the state has taken a new initiative to combat the problem: training family doctors to act as dentists. Among the skills being taught are pulling teeth, lancing abscesses and applying flouride.

"Expanded access to dental care is important because oral health has been linked to overall health, but not all dentists are thrilled with the new program," Dr. James Schmidt, president of the Maine Dental Association, told the Boston Globe.

The training program was begun in 2003 by Dr. William Alto and two other doctors from the Maine Dartmouth Family Medicine Institute in response to the dentist shortage in the state. Currently, Maine has fewer than 600 dentists, about one for every 2,200 people, compared to the national average of one for every 1,600. Among the reasons, Alto said, atre that "MaineCare reimbursements are too low, Maine is a rural state and there's no dental school in the state."

The Globe reports that nearly 40 family practice residents have already undergone the training program at Maine Dartmouth. "The goal isn't to transform them into dentists, but simply to make them aware of oral health issues," said Schmidt. "My passion is for all of our citizens to have access to good care ... I don't really care who provides the service, as long as the service is appropriate, done well and the follow up is good." Read the whole story here.


Anonymous said...

Great, Family Medicine in Maine isn't dying fast enough. Now we show medical students that family physicians should take on another task that is so low paid by Medicaid that many dentists won't accept it. That'll give the students another reason to rule out specializing in family medicine.

Anonymous said...

There are some good foreign dentist that are not given the opportunity to practice in the States without going back to dental school. Dentists willing to work in rural areas for underserved population, not looking to become millonaries but to serve the community