A standing-room-only crowd packed into a recent open house celebrating the new facility for Waterville Community Dental in Kennebec County, Maine. The overflowing room was a perfect indication of the immense level of community support for the clinic’s important services and mission. Waterville Community Dental’s small and dedicated staff serve nearly 4,000 patients from 11 surrounding rural counties annually. Seventy-five percent of these patients are children.
Located in central Maine, where family clinics are sparse, the clinic worked with our local staff to secure an $830,000 Rural Development Community Facilities Direct Loan to purchase a new, larger facility that will serve even more patients and further benefit this region of our state.
Access to quality dental care is often a challenge in a rural state like Maine. According to a report by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (PDF, 1.5 MB), residents face significant obstacles to obtaining dental care due to the relatively small number of dentists in the state combined with their wide geographic distribution.
Without regular access to proper dental care, oral health will decline, and that can create other medical issues. Poor oral health can result in increased emergency room visits, poor nutrition, reduced overall health and missed days of work and school. The services provided by Waterville Community Dental and other rural health clinics are vital to ensuring that Maine’s rural residents can thrive and be productive, contributing members of their communities.
Over the last decade, we’ve been able to invest more than $70 million in Maine health care facilities for services including acute care, first responders, dental clinics, telehealth, substance abuse, mental health, and LifeFlight. All of these are having a substantial impact on the lives of Maine people every day. I’m pleased we could be a part of this project with Waterville Community Dental, and we look forward to helping other rural dental clinics expand.