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Overall health could be improved with help of dental therapists

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By Howard Rhoads

We have a dental crisis in New Mexico. Our state is underserved and many areas do not even have a practicing dentist.
Many across our state go without dental care, and those who do get care in rural areas have to travel a long way to get it. For several years, I worked as a dentist in Fort Sumner, and I treated patients from a lot of areas to include Santa Rosa, Roswell, Santa Fe, Vaughn, Albuquerque and some from Texas border towns.
Many of my patients spent several hours in a car each way just to get care at our clinic. Some came simply because they knew me. Others came because we used a sliding payment scale based on income and didn’t turn anyone away. Still others couldn’t get an appointment elsewhere. There are so few dentists, and even fewer who accept Medicaid, so our clinic was their best choice.
By the time they arrived, some had advanced oral disease, and most were in desperate need of extractions, partially due to lack of education and poor access to dental care that many could not afford.


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Los Alamos Monitor | lacirculation@lamonitor.com | 505-662-4185
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