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Low-income patients get dental services

A new dental care center in Addison County will offer services to low-income residents as part of a new "sustainable" business model to serve all income levels. Addison County Dental Care (ACDC) is now raising the last bit of start-up money, in order to open this fall.

ACDC is buying state-of-the-art equipment with federal and state grant money and is recruiting a new dentist. In exchange for the use of the valuable equipment, the dentist will take a clientele of 50% low-to-moderate income patients, paying by Medicaid or on a sliding scale of fees. The other 50 percent of patients will be regular fee paying clients. This business model has been working sustainably in Brattleboro and Rockingham.

The acute need for dental care for lower-income residents, both children and adults, has long been recognized in Addison County. The new accessibility to dental care is expected to prevent pain and illness.

"Everybody now views preventive dental care as part of total body health, with links to heart disease and diabetes," said retired dentist and president of the ACDC Board of Directors, Dr. Seymour Rettinger.

Dr. Jack Mayer of Rainbow Pediatrics in Middlebury said, "It is heartbreaking to see so many kids with tooth decay and gum disease, whose parents cannot afford dental care. Dental problems contribute to poor nutrition, premature births, and heart disease."

Dental care may also help to control medical costs. Dr. Mayer pointed out that one dollar of dental care may save more than three dollars of disease treatment down the road. And of course the new dentist will also make it easier for new residents of the county to find dental care, since existing dental practices are so busy.

ACDC must raise enough money locally to pay for renovation of the new office, in Middlebury on Merchants Row across from the bus stop. The United Way of Addison County has given a small challenge grant to get the last push started. Once these last set-up costs are in hand, the opening day can be scheduled.

Tax-deductible contributions for this one-time campaign to open the doors of AC Dental Care can be made to AC Dental Care and sent to ACDC, P.O.Box 825, Middlebury 05753.

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