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WI Dentists: It's OK to See Us

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A year ago, scheduling a dental appointment might have been the furthest thing from people's minds as the pandemic unfolded. But with many residents and providers now vaccinated, Wisconsin residents are urged to get caught up on care.

The Wisconsin Dental Association recommends now is a good time to check in with your dentist if COVID-19 delayed regular visits.

Dr. Paula Crum, president of the Association, said routine mask wearing can lead to a dry mouth, which leads to plaque build-up while enhancing the risk for cavities and gum disease.

"The other thing that we've seen increases in is the stress in our patients, a lot more tooth-grinding that's happening, which has caused an increase in fractures of teeth," Crum explained.

Crum, who also is a periodontist in Green Bay, said for anyone still nervous about going to the dentist, they should know the industry has long prioritized infection control. She said offices have taken further steps to protect patients and staff.

For those who can't afford care, the state does have a program where dentists donate their time for free services to qualifying individuals.

The program is geared for those on a limited income that is linked to a permanent disability, chronic illness, or advanced age.

Meanwhile, Crum noted her group is calling on the Legislature to increase Medicaid reimbursements with dentists seeing more patients enrolled in that program.

"One of the big problems with the lack of providers is that the reimbursement rates are so low that it's very difficult to see these patients," Crum stated.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and the Republican-controlled Legislature remain far apart on broader issues surrounding Medicaid, including whether to accept federal expansion money. However, it's unclear if those differences will impact any efforts in Madison to boost reimbursement rates.

Mike Moen is the Morning Edition producer and serves as a staff reporter for WNIJ. Every morning, he works with Dan Klefstad to bring listeners the latest Illinois news. He also works with the rest of the news staff on developing and producing in-depth stories. Mike is a Minnesota native who likes movies, history, and baseball. When most people hear his last name, they assume he is 100-percent Scandinavian. But, believe it or not, he is mostly German.
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