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Three counties in North Carolina are receiving a $300,000 grant from the Health and Wellness Trust Fund Commission in order to improve the access to dental care of low-income residents in the area. The money will be used to improve salaries for current dental health workers and to hire two more full-time dental hygienists.
Dee Johnson, the executive director of Carolina Family Health Centers, told the Spring Hope Enterprise that patients who have chronic dental disease will have special attention due to the well-documented links between poor dental health and cardiovascular disease, stroke, dementia and diabetes.
The money comes from a $1.9 million state-wide program by the commission to improve access to dental care.
Access to dental care for low-income and rural patients is a recurring problem in many states. California has 233 areas across the state which qualify as dental health professional shortage areas, meaning they have less than one dentist for every 5,000 residents. Earlier this year, Maine reported some counties that bordered on shortage as well.
In addition, many dentists will not treat many patients with public dental insurance or other limited capacity to pay.
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