Free dental clinic returns to Machias

MACHIAS, Maine (WABI) - Hundreds of children and adults from Washington County and beyond have received free dental work this week.

"I feel that it is such an honor to be here and serve this community. I see how hard the people in this community work and what a great need there is here for our services."

The New York University College of Dentistry and the Washington County Children's Program have worked together over the past 12 years to bring no-cost dental care to Machias.

"This program has touched the lives of over two-thousand adults. We have served over eighteen hundred children."

It is open to anyone who has trouble accessing dental care.

Students from NYU are able to experience first hand what it's like serving members of the community.

"After my first outreach, when I came back to the clinic, I just had a different perspective for the work that we do and how much we can really give to a community and what leaders we can be in that community and bring change."

While adults receive many different types of dental care, the main focus is children.

"We've decreased the prevalence of decay, the amount of caries in the children's mouths by about fifty percent, going from about forty percent from them having caries to now a little under twenty percent having caries, which is lower than the national average."

Several area schools bus the children to the clinic.

"It's great to see kids who come to us, and we say, 'Do you like coming to the dentist?,' and they say, 'Oh, I come every year, I like coming here.' So they are excited to see us, and we have seen a reduction in the number of cavities that are happening and the problems are kind of lessening over time, so we can see the impact year after year."

We're told they hope to continue the program for many years to come.

"It feels like we have been given a huge gift to our community, and we want to make sure that they keep returning because there are so many people that would not get dental services otherwise."