In the Press Herald on Aug. 6, in the editorial “Our View: Needy Maine adults lack dental-health safety net,” you rightly supported an adult MaineCare dental benefit.

As the coordinator of a food pantry, I can’t tell you how many times people have said to me, “Don’t give me anything I have to chew. I have no teeth.”

You noted in the editorial that almost half of the people over 65 with incomes under $15,000 also have lost all their teeth, whereas almost all of those with incomes over $50,000 still have theirs. Most of our clients who tell us they are without teeth are in their 30s to 50s. Imagine trying to get a job with no teeth.

Some time ago we lived for a year in New Zealand, where every school had a dental hygienist and every child was seen at least once a year. Healthy teeth begin early and should last a lifetime.

When I volunteered at a health clinic in Ohio before moving to Maine, the dentists who helped us said that the best they could do for most people was pull their teeth because by the time they saw them, they were beyond repair. And think of the pain the people went through before reaching that situation.

With residents who have healthy teeth and a better opportunity to work, the state might even save money!

Delene Perley


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