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“We don’t know what we’re getting,” said Dr. Mike Perpich, president of the Minnesota Dental Association.
Commonwealth’s last-in-the-nation ranking of Minnesota surprised dental profession leaders because another health policy organization, the Pew Charitable Trusts, recently gave the state an “A” grade for pediatric dental care, also noting however that the state has a “problem” in the high number of low-income children who don’t receive regular checkups.
Improved payment rates will help, but state leaders said they also need to make dental care more convenient for low-income families. Organizations such as UCare and the Ronald McDonald House Charities are helping by operating mobile clinics that visit areas of the state where dentists are in short supply.
“For the people we are trying to target, you have to bring the clinic to them,” said Dr. Michael Sudit, a Wayzata dentist who is trying to create a similar mobile clinic through the Molar Express organization he founded.
Outreach helped Feinberg, the 14-year-old who received a checkup last Monday and two fillings when he returned Friday.
His last previous dental visit had been so long ago that he remembered extorting a “Star Wars” toy out of his mother if he agreed to go. Since then, he has ignored dental problems and had even stopped chewing on one side of his mouth.
The pain of Friday’s fillings was offset by the joy of missing geometry class. But next up is the root canal. While his grandmother is relieved he is receiving overdue care, Feinberg is nervous about the procedure. Maybe this time he’ll hold out for a better toy.
Jeremy Olson • 612-673-7744