A UMA program addresses shortages of dental assistants and dental hygienists

by | Oct 20, 2023 | Northeast Delta Dental Foundation | 0 comments

We recently presented $665,000 to the University of Maine at Augusta (UMA) to expand the dental workforce in Maine. Our award will enable the expansion of the current UMA Lewiston Center Dental Clinic and increase enrollment of dental assisting and expanded functions dental assisting students and also provide dental hygiene students with additional rotations.

This initiative, Expanding The Dental Workforce Throughout Maine: An Educational, Rotating Dental Clinic, has a goal of addressing the shortage of dental auxiliaries in Maine and extending the availability of dental care to address disparities in oral health, providing quality oral health care for people who are low-income, uninsured, and/or members of racial/ethnic minority, immigrant or rural populations. The funding will cover the addition of state-of-the-art dental units to UMA’s Lewiston Center Dental Clinic, including equipment and construction costs, a scholarship program and additional staff.

Local and state representatives joined Northeast Delta Dental and UMA ambassadors for the check presentation, which took place on the University of Southern Maine Lewiston-Auburn Campus and included tours of the UMA Lewiston Center Dental Clinic.

We provide funding to programs that address dental workforce shortages and expand access to oral health education and dental care in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont through the Northeast Delta Dental Foundation and direct corporate giving. Although dental workforce shortages can impact everyone, the shortages of dentists, dental hygienists and dental assistants are an added challenge for those already finding it difficult to access dental services. Nationwide, the Delta Dental member companies have made advancing health equity a priority because not everyone has access to high-quality oral health care, and we believe that everyone deserves a healthy smile.

Historically, underrepresented groups experience higher rates of preventable oral health problems like cavities, tooth loss and gum disease, leading to poorer overall health outcomes. That’s why we and other Delta Dental member companies advance health equity through oral health education, close gaps to care in our communities and invest in diversifying the oral health workforce. Delta Dental member companies funded oral health education programs in 2022 that reached 11.6 million people, and we invested $7.5 million to shape the oral health workforce. This giving impacted people and communities in all 50 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico.

Northeast Delta Dental appreciates this opportunity to support a Maine program that will expand the availability of well-trained dental assistants and dental hygienists so that more people can receive the care they need when they need it.

For more information, I encourage you to check out the news coverage through WABI 5 and 13 WGME in Maine.

Tom Raffio
October 2023

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