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Many North Dakotans Long Overdue for a Dental Check-Up?

October 27, 2010

GRAND FORKS, N. D. - Many rural North Dakotans put off dental exams and routine cleanings because of the cost, although they really don't have to. Community Health Centers' (CHC) dental clinics offer sliding-scale payment programs. Rachelle Gustafson is a dental hygienist at the CHC in Grand Forks.

"I do believe that is one of the reasons people aren't able to come in regularly for preventative work. We at Valley Community Health Centers are able to offer our patients reduced fees based on their income."

She says many people also overlook children's dental health, which is often a mistake because kids may need it the most.

"We see lots of decay in children, especially. A lot of it, I believe, is lack of knowledge – as far as how to take care of teeth, as well as proper diet in order to control the decay."

Gustafson says with Halloween coming up, it would be great if people handed out crackers or other options instead of candy. However, if it's a one-time event and kids eat a small amount of candy, she adds, it probably won't do any harm. She also reminds North Dakotans that Dental Hygiene Month would also be a great time to schedule an appointment.

Dick Layman, Public News Service - ND