New Hampshire dentist shortage leads to shuttering of dental services: 8 notes

A community health center in Canaan, N.H., will end its dental services July 30 following the departure of its only dentist, Valley News reported July 16.

Eight notes:

1. Navpreet Judge, DDS, is leaving Mascoma Community Health Center to enter private practice, leaving the remaining three dental employees without a supervisor. Those employees will lose their jobs at the end of the month, Valley News reported. 

2. The nonprofit center plans to resume dental services once a replacement for Dr. Judge is found. 

3. It is unclear how long it will take for Dr. Judge's replacement to be found. The center has been searching for the last 12 weeks, Valley News reported.

4. The suspension of dental services will leave 1,500 patients without dental care amid an ongoing national dental workforce shortage.

5. Ed Shanshala, CEO of Littleton, N.H.-based Ammonoosuc Community Health Services, told the news organization there are not enough dentists in the state's Upper Valley region because many dentists entered retirement during the pandemic and many younger dentists opt to serve in urban and suburban areas.

6. The Ammonoosuc Community Health Services dental clinic also closed due to staffing shortages.

7. The number of Medicaid patients could also increase after the state passed legislation in May that added diagnostic and preventive dental coverage. The new law goes into effect in April 2023.

8. The state is working with the New Hampshire Oral Health Coalition, Bi-State Primary Care Association and the New Hampshire Dental Society to address workforce issues, according to Sarah Finne, DMD, Medicaid dental director for the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. Possible solutions include creating a dental residency program under the Harvard School of Dental Medicine in Boston and establishing a program to help dental students pay off debt.

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