More people in need in Baltimore County will now be able to receive dental care.
Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced Tuesday at the Eastern Family Resource Center in Rosedale that the county’s dental program—which serves children, pregnant women and senior citizens over 60—recently became a Medicaid provider.
This, Kamenetz said, allows the program to provide dental care to these groups and bill Medicaid for the services.
“While there is a focus of providing health care for those in need, especially children, we tend to overlook dental care,” Kamenetz said. “Providing that care can have a huge impact on the health of those who need our help the most.”
Before the announcement, those who were eligible for medical care from the county had to be referred to other dentists that accepted Medicaid, said county Deputy Health Director Della Leister.
Leister added that the county’s two dental clinics, located at the Eastern Family Resource Center and the Liberty Family Resource Center in Randallstown, saw more than 2,000 patients combined during fiscal year 2011. She expects that figure to rise considerably now that the county is a Medicaid provider.
Both Kamenetz and Leister said local and state governments have sought additional ways to offer dental care to those in need, following the 2007 death of Deamonte Driver. The 12-year-old died after an infection from his untreated tooth spread to his brain.
Leister said the county’s dental program also offers services on a sliding-scale fee basis depending on the income of the patient and/or their family. For those who don’t qualify for Medicaid, the county can assist them in finding a provider through the Dental Access Program, which maintains a list of dentists that provide services at a reduced cost.
“We’re trying to take as many steps as possible to save more children from suffering, and even dying, simply because they could not afford to receive regular dental care,” Leister said. “Being a Medicaid provider allows us to help fill the coverage gaps in the county for dental care.”
Along with the Medicaid announcement, county health officials also used Tuesday’s event to show off the county’s new digital X-ray equipment, which has been at the Eastern and Liberty resource centers since January.
Kamenetz boasted that along with reducing the amount of radiation to patients by two-thirds, compared to traditional machines, the new equipment allows dentists to manipulate the images on a computer screen, and forward them along to other health care specialists. It also will save the county about $1,700 annually on the purchase of X-ray film and supplies.
“Dental care is an important element in maintaining good health and we are pleased to be improving our services through technology while at the same time making dental care available to more children and adults in our community,” Kamenetz said in a statement.
Leister said those who want more information on the dental program can call 410-887-2781.