April 13, 2024

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Health Lasts Longer

New England Medicaid dental benefits vary from state to state

Dentist Dr. Greg Fredette looks into a mouth and often sees the ravages of poor dental care: missing teeth, receding gums and cavities like tiny canyons.

Some patients are struggling single moms caught in a financial squeeze, habitually putting off their own dental care. Others are retirees who haven’t had adequate insurance since leaving the workforce. 

“It’s not that these people don’t care about their health. It’s just at the end of the month, there’s no money left for them,” said Fredette, associate chief dental officer at Greater Seacoast Community Health in New Hampshire.

Fredette sees the results of “years of neglect” that could have been avoided with routine preventative care.

Theresa McCusker, of Somersworth, New Hampshire, gets the finishing touches on a crown by her dentist Dr. Greg Fredette at Goodwin Community Health.

Poor dental health can ultimately lead to chronic diseases, and at worst, death. But care often falls by the wayside for many low-income people who lack insurance or don’t have a way of getting to the dentist’s office. 

For adults on Medicaid in New Hampshire, dental coverage still remains elusive. Last week, Republican Gov. Chris Sununu signed the biennial state budget, and in doing so, scrapped funding for the state’s Medicaid adult dental benefit.