BANGOR – Penobscot Community Health Care has been awarded a $25,000 grant for a dental hygiene therapist pilot program.
A spokesperson for Penobscot Community Health Care said that in 2014, Maine became the second state to pass a law allowing the practice of dental hygiene therapists.
“We’re just now starting to implement and working with the Board of Licensure and Licensing for Dental Hygiene Therapist,” said PCHC President and CEO Lori Dwyer.
Dwyer said the position is a dental hygienist with extra training.
“They would be able to fill cavities. They would be able to do extractions,” Dwyer said.
She said the state is in a dental care crisis with many dentists at or near retirement.
“We’re not going to recruit our way out of this problem. Access is shrinking in Maine to dental care and it was already really very poor,” said Dwyer.
She said she believes the University of Minnesota has the only dental hygiene therapist program. They’ll be working with the school to find someone who’s qualified to come to Maine for the pilot program.
“We plan to learn how to do the work and really integrate this person into the dental care team,” Dwyer said, adding that the hope is to develop the best model and spread it across the state.
The Maine Dental Hygienists’ Association and the Maine Dental Association did not immediately respond to requests for comment.