Picking Another Brain
I was terrible about oral hygiene when I was a kid. That, coupled with soft teeth and no availability of fluoride, led to many cavities by the time I graduated from high school. I’ve been paying for those lapses ever since and I joke that the amount of money spent on my teeth since age 21 could buy a decent sports car. As a result, I’m aware of the sad state of teeth in rural Maine. In addition to the cost (and insurance, when/where available doesn’t cover that much anyhow), the scarcity of dentists the further from Portland you get, makes for a logistical nightmare, especially when transportation and time off at work are issues.
I asked my new dentist (although he’s been in practice for 43 years) what he thought was the biggest challenge to rural dental care and how could it be fixed. He said lack of clinics was his biggest concern and establishing them would make a huge difference. BUT, he continued, unless you can identify long term funding and can show those involved in providing it, that you know what you’re doing, it’s a waste of time. As the conversation continued, he amplified on his thoughts by saying that adopting the standardization model the Maine Dept. of Education has come up with for building new schools, or something similar, would be necessary. Otherwise, you run the risk of building too much, too fancy, or too costly to maintain and eventually end up defeating the purpose. That got me thinking about what franchises like McDonald’s and Dunkin Donuts do. They build on essentially the same footprint for all new stores. This allows them to know costs up front and the structures are erected pretty quickly.
My dentist wasn’t aware of any state where such a model is in place for rural areas, but the conversation got me thinking and as time permits, I’ll be searching for any research or data on states or Canadian provinces where such a plan is in place. Stay tuned for more on this.