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Cardin praises oral health care improvements


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Photo by Dave Nyczepir. Sen. Ben Cardin commends state leaders for making Maryland the nation’s foremost oral health care provider on Wednesday after touring the Kool Smiles dental clinic in District Heights.

Photo by Dave Nyczepir. Sen. Ben Cardin commends state leaders for making Maryland the nation’s foremost oral health care provider on Wednesday after touring the Kool Smiles dental clinic in District Heights.

Published on: Friday, August 19, 2011

By Dave Nyczepir

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., praised state leadership for making Maryland the nation’s foremost oral health care provider after touring the Kool Smiles dental clinic in District Heights on Wednesday afternoon.

Cardin thanked members of the Maryland Dental Action Coalition and the Deamonte Driver Dental Project for guaranteeing dental care for children statewide and partnering with facilities like Kool Smiles.

“We have changed the landscape in this state and nation on oral health,” Cardin said. “But if you’re going to be able to get your children the type of dental care they need, they need to have access to that care; that’s what this facility is all about.”

In 2007, Deamonte Driver, a 12-year-old from Prince George’s County, died when an untreated abscessed tooth infection spread to his brain.

The death served as a tragic wakeup call to state leaders, who passed a series of reforms increasing reimbursements for dentists participating in Medicaid, improving dental education programs and creating new dental clinics.

As a result, Maryland received an A grade in the Pew Center’s most recent State of Dental Health report and was the only state to reach seven of eight benchmarks.

“Since the untimely death of Deamonte Driver, the Maryland Dental Action Coalition has worked diligently with key state and federal legislators and partners to address children’s lack of access to oral health care,” said Katrina Holt, the coalition’s director.

The MDAC was formed in 2010 as an independent, statewide partnership of individuals and organizations committed to improving oral health.

The coalition developed and released its five-year Maryland Oral Health Plan in May, detailing new access strategies and injury prevention programs.

“We should celebrate this model created by the leadership in this state and partnership with providers, both public and private, as a model for other communities across the United States,” said Dr. Priya Grewal, Kool Smiles regional dental director.

Camiller Bronson, mother of patients Briana, 13, and Jamisha, 6, has brought her children to Kool Smiles for the past two years.

“My six-year old, she loves coming, so I just want to say thank you Kool Smiles. You’re wonderful, and I know I’m not the only parent who feels this way,” Bronson said.

Following the press conference, Cardin took a tour of the Deamonte Driver Dental Project’s dental education tour bus.

To date, the bus has visited 20 of the 54 Title One schools in Prince George’s County and serviced more than 1,600 students, said Betty Thomas, project manager.

The project aims to eventually visit all 54 schools in the county.

 

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