Making Strides Toward Better Oral Health in Claremont


Although the Community Dental Care Center in Claremont, NH has only been open for a little over a year, over 1,200 patients have already had their oral health needs addressed by the center’s staff, according to an article by Angel Roy on July 7, 2010 in the Eagle Times. On the day of the dental center’s opening, June 23, 2009, office manager Carolyn Girard commented that a line of people could be seen outside the front door. That line was but one indication of the distinct need for oral health services for Claremont residents that Karen Dewey and members of the Sullivan County Oral Health Collaborative spent much time and energy trying to understand. With funding from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, the Endowment for Health and the city of Claremont, the Collaborative took it upon themselves to initiate the planning needed for a project of this type.

Housed in Opera House Square, the seven-person staff at the dental center helps patients with a variety of insurance types, from New Hampshire Medicaid and Healthy Kids to self-pay patients. Dewey attributes the project’s success to the fact that it is a center rather than a clinic, allowing the dental practitioners to “serve everybody because everybody needs a dental home,” as Dewey puts it.

Since the opening of the dental center, Dr. Charles Sawyer, a staff member of the emergency medicine department at local Valley Regional Hospital has noticed “a decrease in patients accessing emergency services for dental issues, such as the need for extractions.”Although New Hampshire Medicaid only covers emergency services related to adult dental needs, the dental center has provided accessible, affordable care to individuals who might not otherwise find it. Both Dewey and her husband have seen the need for oral health in the Claremont community since they moved there 34 years ago. Dewey’s husband, a physician’s assistant, commented after his first day of work, “I cannot believe the dental disease.” Dewey comments that “I started the oral health collaborative seven years ago – 27 years later we were still talking about dental disease. That’s absurd.”

What Roy makes clear in her article is that the dental center’s existence was rooted in the identification and action of the collaborative as well as other Claremont citizens who see the center as a stride toward finally addressing a long-seated community need.

    One Response to “Making Strides Toward Better Oral Health in Claremont”

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