Sunday, July 21, 2024
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Putnam Health Department Has Its Long-Awaited Dentist

The Putnam County Health Department will begin providing dental services for the first time in seven years.

Putnam County Health Department Director Lisa Bumbalough said the department will provide full-scale dental service five days a week. That includes cleanings, extractions, fillings, and oral exams. She said the Upper Cumberland is seeing a dental healthcare shortage and tooth decay is one of the most common chronic conditions nationwide.

“Even in the medical clinic, we see so many patients who need oral healthcare,” Bumbalough said. “And it’s hard to find clinics that will see them, especially the uninsured. So, it’s definitely a wonderful opportunity for us, so we’re so excited.”

Bumbalough said the clinic will target uninsured adults and assess fees with a sliding scale based on family size and income. She said after some five years of recruiting, the dental clinic will include one dentist, two registered dental assistants, a hygienist, and a clerical staffer. She said she hopes to have the service up and running by September 1.

“Oral disease has been linked with other chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, so it’s important that we take care of our oral health, that we see a dentist for annual visits and screenings so that we stay on top of any oral problems that may come up,” Bumbalough said.

She said the three-chair clinic is stocked with updated, state-of-the-art equipment. She said the dental service sector of the facility will also focus on outreach and education, ensuring that the youth understands the importance of proper oral hygiene and health.

“We go into the schools,” Bumbalough said. “It’s called the School Sealant Program and it’s an effective way to reach children to prevent cavities and make it convenient for parents.”

Bumbalough said the department offered dental services for some 20 years, but it has been quite a challenge recruiting a new dentist over the past five years. She said the clinic will TennCare, but will not file dental insurance plans. She said the new staff will onboard in mid-August and get a feel for what their new roles will look like.

“We’re just looking forward to having her here,” Bumbalough said. “Right now, we’re having all of our equipment examined to make sure everything’s ready and up to par. We’ve painted the clinic, so it looks really nice, and we’re just waiting to start filling the clinic up.”