Dentists Put a Smile on Crow Wing County Residents
Over a quarter of adults and ten percent of kids in Minnesota do not have the proper dental coverage, leaving them with nowhere to turn when they have a serious tooth problem.
“People go into the emergency room for dental problems, and they don’t have dentists on staff there,” Kevin Dens, Minnesota Dental Association’s Speaker of the House, said.
Now those patients have a place to go thanks to the “Help Crow Wing County Smile” program.
“With a group of participating dentists, we’re able to evaluate the patient here in the emergency department, we then put in a referral to the dentist that would be on call for that particular week,” Lance Fisher, an Emergency Department Physician’s Assistant, said.
Design Dentistry, Cosmetic & Family Dentistry and Lakes Country Dental are the three dentistries in a weekly rotation to help emergency room patients no matter their insurance or financial situation.
“There are some that can’t afford to pay and we still want to treat those patients,” Dens said. “So, Essentia set up a fund to help us with those patients, but still a lot of the funding comes from the goodness of our dentists in the area. So, we got a good group of dentists in Crow Wing County that have come on board and helped out.”
Getting the proper dental care is important, because poor dental health can lead to more serious health issues.
“Some dental problems can cause systemic illness including problems with heart valves, etc.,” Fisher said.
The program sheds light on a much bigger issue in the health care field.
“The opioid crisis was the other part of this,” Dens said. “Keep people off drugs, getting them out of pain – it’s just the right thing to do.”
The emergency room can only do so much for dental problems.
“They can relieve the pain for the patient on the short term, but again, they’re not treating the cause and we need to treat the cause,” Dens said.
The “Help Crow Wing County Smile Program” has been in existence for two years, but its future is in question.
“Is it going to be sustainable?” Dens questioned. “Patients need a dental home where they can go and get treated, and that’s part of the legislative problem.”
Dentists in the program cannot be commended enough for volunteering their time through this program, but a lot of these dental problems can be prevented if people take the proper care of their teeth at home.