Dental Program to Reach Hundreds of Manchester Area Children
Catholic Medical Center to provide on-site dental visits at Manchester Community Health Center
Photo: By Rick Swanson. Poisson Dental Facility’s Practice Manager Gail Dupuis (left) and Clinical Coordinator Mary Pierce, DMD (right) are members of a team that will bring on-site dental services to children ages 0-5 at Manchester Community Health Center.
MANCHESTER, NH: Hundreds of Manchester area children will now have dental care thanks to a new collaboration between Catholic Medical Center (CMC) and Manchester Community Health Center (MCHC). A dentist and hygienist from CMC’s Poisson Dental Facility will offer dental services for children ages 0-5 at MCHC’s location on Hollis Street in Manchester.
The initiative addresses a “gap group” of children who are in the critical pre-school years but do not have a dental provider or adequate insurance. An early relationship with a dental care provider can prevent early childhood tooth decay, which can lead to infections, oral pain, and even difficulty eating and sleeping. Dr. Mary Pierce, a dentist from Poisson Dental Facility, notes that the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics both recommend a dental visit for children starting at age one. “Every day there are new findings about the relationship between oral health and overall health,” says Dr. Pierce. “Establishing early dental care can improve a child’s overall health for a lifetime.”
Gail Dupuis, the practice manager at Poisson Dental Facility, says, “Because we are seeing children in the very early stages of their tooth development, we have the opportunity to build a relationship with Mom and Dad as well. Through education and support, we ALL become partners with the ultimate goal of giving their children the lifelong gift of overall health.”
Several times per month Dr. Pierce and a dental hygienist will visit MCHC to offer dental services to children who have been referred to the program by their primary care providers. They will check for signs of decay, provide cleanings, apply dental sealants, and educate parents about oral health. Any needed follow-up care will be provided at Poisson Dental Clinic at CMC.
“MCHC has had great successes in the past bringing specialists to see our patients at one of our sites,” says MCHC’s Chief Medical Officer Gavin Muir, MD. “A great number of our patients have to deal with potential barriers to receiving care including transportation needs, translation concerns, and a lack of insurance. We now have podiatric, optometric, and obstetric specialty care on site to help with foot issues, eye issues, and prenatal issues so it makes sense for us to offer something similar to handle pediatric dental issues. We are excited to partner with Poisson Dental Facility because the goal is to have a dental home for all of our pediatric patients and we would much prefer to collaborate with an existing community partner to offer services rather than to try and duplicate those same services ourselves.”
“Providing dental services on site at MCHC is consistent with the mission of CMC,” says Paul Mertzic, RN, CMC’s Executive Director of Community Health & Mission. “We want to provide health, hope, and healing to all members of our community. The relationship that develops between the primary care provider and the dental provider is critical towards the overall health of the child.”
About MCHC: Manchester Community Health Center (MCHC) is a nonprofit 501(c) (3) federally qualified health center offering high-quality, comprehensive, and family-oriented primary health care and support services since 1993. Founded in 1980, Child Health Services (CHS) at MCHC is the pediatric practice of Manchester Community Health Center, dedicated to improving the health and well-being of at-risk children. Through all its programs, MCHC serves over 16,000 active patients at four locations in Manchester, including the West Side Neighborhood Health Center. For more information visit www.mchc-nh.org.
About Poisson Dental Facility: CMC was the first hospital in New Hampshire to integrate oral health into its system of care. Improving the dental health of unserved and underserved populations in the area has been the focus of Poisson Dental Facility since it was started in 1983. CMC has invested in oral health because lack of access to dental care has consistently come out high in community needs assessments. For more information on Poisson Dental Facility Services, call 603-663-6226.