U.S. stimulus dollars help expand Mont. dental program

The RiverStone Health clinic in Billings, MT, has doubled the size of its dental facilities and purchased a digital x-ray machine with the help of nearly $1 million in stimulus money from the U.S. government, according to a story in the Billings Gazette.

Expanding the number of dental chairs from five to 10 will bolster patient access, improve RiverStone's ability to provide broader dental student rotations, and enhance its ability to recruit dentists, including those who might want to volunteer at the clinic, Lil Anderson, president and CEO of RiverStone Health, told the Gazette.

Having an adequate facility to recruit dentists is especially important because RiverStone Health is located in a federally designated dental health professional shortage area (D-HPSA). More than 32,000 people are underserved in Yellowstone County regarding access to dental care, the Gazette noted, and the county does not fluoridate its water.

In a recent survey of RiverStone Health clinic's patients, 60% had not seen a dental professional during the past year, and 3% said they had never seen a dentist. Part of the problem has been a lack of adequate dental services at RiverStone Health. A recent audit showed an average of 30 people a day were turned away due to a lack of capacity, according to the Gazette.

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