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Delaware Division of Public Health to permanently close its dental clinics

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DOVER – The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) announced that its Bureau of Oral Health and Dental Services will not reopen its Public Health Dental Clinics for direct patient care. The clinics, which previously operated within the Delaware State Service Centers, have been temporarily closed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the temporary closure of the clinics was largely driven by the pandemic, the decision to permanently close the clinics was under consideration before it began. Steady declines in the number of patients served through the clinics over the last five years as well as an increasing shift in programming focused on school- and community-based outreach led to the closure decision.

The DPH Oral Health Program will continue to support access to quality oral health services through the Delaware Smile Check Program, a portable preventive dental program delivered on site in schools, that includes case management to connect families to providers that can best meet their dental needs, provide oral health and nutrition education, assist families with securing insurance, as well as other services as needed.

“Our priority is to continue with efforts to decrease the burden of oral disease for Delawareans, particularly for families with disadvantaged backgrounds,” said Dr. Nick Conte, director of the Division of Public Health’s Bureau of Oral Health and Dental Services, in a statement. “Portable dental programs have allowed us greater opportunity to reach populations that may experience barriers in accessing dental care services.”

Conte continued: “We look forward to resuming and expanding services provided through Delaware Smile Check and other community-based programs to address the needs of the community, and remain dedicated to utilizing new tools and technology to provide virtual education, case management, and laying a framework for dental medical integration to address the individual’s total health.”

Over the past year, the DPH Oral Health Program has identified children with urgent oral health needs and unmet dental needs, and successfully connected them with a dental home while the dental clinics have been closed. Notification was sent to patients regarding the permanent closure with additional information.

Previous clients of the DPH dental clinics who have not yet found a new dental home are encouraged to contact the Bureau of Oral Health and Dental Services at 302-622-4540 to speak with staff who can assist them with identifying providers in their community that meet the needs of their family.

For more information about the Bureau of Oral Health and Dental Services, visit dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/hsm/ohphome.html.

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