PORTLAND, Maine — Maine is now home to a network of virtual dental services that supporters said would make dental care more readily available to children.
The practices are “virtual dental homes,” in which children become patients with a dental practice but receive care in school and primary care settings, said Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree, a supporter of the method, on Wednesday. Services are delivered using telehealth technology, she said.
Dentists are then able to complete the exam and create a treatment plan if necessary. Pingree said the model will remove barriers to dental care in Maine, which she said has a high number of children who don't receive preventative dental care.
Pingree secured $650,000 in federal funding to facilitate the launch of the program. She said she is working with the Children's Oral Health Network of Maine on the effort.
"Maine ranks 47th in the nation when it comes to children who are insured by Medicaid but don't receive any preventative dental care. As a mother of three and a grandparent of seven, this is an extremely upsetting statistic," Pingree wrote in a news release. "As the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us, telehealth is an incredible, convenient tool, and expanding that model to oral health just makes sense."