Vermont scrambles to address dental hygienist shortage

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) – Do you need your teeth cleaned? Good luck getting an appointment any time soon. A lack of dental hygienists means some practices are not taking new patients and some say the shortage is the worst they’ve ever seen.

Chelsea Wells loves making people smile, but finding help to do so is like pulling teeth. “It’s a stress that you don’t realize, it’s just kind of always there,” Wells said. “That’s not good continuity of care.”

Wells is the only full-time hygienist at the UVM Medical Center’s oral and dental health facility. She says a second full-time position has been open for two years. “Right now, it’s just about patient care. Right now, people aren’t getting… I think we’re here looking out nine or 10 months,” Wells said.

The UVMMC dental office is currently not taking any new patients because of the hygienist shortage. Oftentimes, the dentists themselves need to do cleanings. “We believe that we’re really at a crisis level at this point in delivering and delivering oral health care,” said Dr. Justin Hurlburt, a UVMMC dentist president of the Vermont Dental Society.

Source: Vermont scrambles to address dental hygienist shortage / WCAX

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