Birthdays are meant to be a time for celebration with cake and candles, the singing of “Happy Birthday” and maybe even a party with friends and family. That’s what a nine-year-old boy in Miami County was hoping for earlier this year. Instead, he was plagued with a toothache because a filling had fallen out. The boy’s parents – both self-employed – didn’t have dental insurance, which made it difficult to find a dentist that could correct the issue. That is until they contacted the Miami County Dental Clinic (MCDC).
In the heart of Miami County, the MCDC provides quality dental care and oral health education in a safe and accessible environment to low-income, uninsured, and under-insured patients. The only safety-net dental clinic in Miami County, the MCDC provides a sliding fee scale for their patients, 51% of whom are uninsured.
For the nine-year-old who needed his filling replaced, MCDC was able to get him in at one of their clinics, provide services at a reasonable cost, and take care of his cavities so he could attend his birthday party free of pain. It was the best birthday present he received!
Serving more than 8,200 active patients from Miami and Shelby Counties, the MCDC provides routine and emergency examinations, hygiene, extractions, dentures, fluoride treatment, diagnostic x-rays, oral hygiene education and much more. The organization’s patients have a variety of barriers that prohibit them from proper dental treatment that include financial status, insurance coverage, and transportation difficulties.
“The dental clinic is here to serve the dental needs of our community,” said Stephanie Silk, executive director of MCDC. “While we are not a free clinic, MCDC offers quality, affordable care to those that don’t carry dental insurance and to those who do.”
Most of MCDC’s uninsured patients pay $25 for a comprehensive exam and x-rays, $25 for a cleaning, and $25 per filling or extraction. They are only one of three dental offices in Miami County that accept Medicaid, and 49% of their patients are on state-assisted insurance programs. MCDC utilizes funding from the HealthPath Foundation to offset the costs of providing their fee schedule.
“MCDC realizes only 40% of the fee for services from state-assisted insurances and approximately 25% - 50% of the customary fee for services from patients on a sliding fee schedule,” said Silk. “We don’t pay our staff what they would make by working in private practice. Therefore, we rely on corporations, donors, and foundations, like HealthPath, to assist in support of our programs.”
One of the organization’s programs, Traveling Smiles, is a dental care outreach program for elementary- aged children who do not have a family dentist due to financial and/or transportation barriers. In operation since 2012, Traveling Smiles serves all nine school districts in Miami County and no child is turned away, regardless of their family’s ability to pay.
“We found that many county children did not have a dentist because their parents or guardians couldn’t afford to leave work to take their children to an appointment,” said Silk.
Traveling Smiles has three portable units that are used at the schools so children miss minimal amounts of class and can be seen during the school day, all while eliminating any transportation barriers for their caretakers. During the 2018-2019 school year, Traveling Smiles saw 446 patients from Miami County and have already seen over 335 patients during the 2019-2020 school year.
To learn more about the Miami County Dental Clinic, visit www.MiamiCountyDental.org.