PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — A new program led by Aroostook County Action Program, Inc., a member of the Aroostook County Health Network, will connect pregnant women receiving services from Women, Infants and Children (WIC) to free dental care at 44 Park Street in Presque Isle.
“Many people don’t realize that oral health affects your whole body and if not taken care of, it can cause very significant problems, especially during pregnancy,” said ACAP Program Coordinator Rachelle Roy. “Physiological changes during pregnancy may also result in noticeable changes in the oral cavity.”
According to the American Dental Association, women are more likely to develop gingivitis during pregnancy and some oral conditions may have adverse consequences for the baby such as prematurity and low birth weight.
Thanks to ACHN grant support, since April, pregnant women who access WIC are eligible to receive free dental care at ACAP’s Early Care and Education center, located on Park Street.
ACAP officials said most WIC mothers face difficulty accessing regular oral health care, and this funding removes the barrier of cost and provides a convenient location for receiving services since the participants already come to the center for their WIC appointments. If more in-depth dental services are needed, staff can make referrals to ACHN partner Pines Health Services.
“Our hope is to provide the care during pregnancy and post-partum to help ensure a healthy pregnancy, and to provide education about proper oral health care and its benefits, along with a referral to a dental home to encourage future care,” said Roy.
Among the goals of the program are reducing incidences of dental caries and gingivitis, while improving gum health and linking participants to dental homes. Dental homes are places that provide ongoing and long-term oral health care and allow the mother to develop a relationship of trust with a familiar dental team.
“The Aroostook County Health Network is pleased to support a program that emphasizes the importance of good oral health, during and after pregnancy, and that aims to remove barriers to long-term dental care that unfortunately do exist,” said Amy Kane, ACHN Coordinator.
“The partnership between ACAP and Pines Health Services under the ACHN is one that we hope can be replicated in other areas of Aroostook County and beyond,” she said.
For more information, contact the ACAP WIC office at (207) 768-3026, ext. 5.