Since Medicaid expanded to include adult dental services, 290 adults have received care this year at the Montezuma County Health Department.
"It shows there is a big need for oral health in this area," said Allison Duran, assistant health department director. "We're anticipating more patients."
Dr. Joe Baumgart provides affordable dental care for children and adult patients three times per week, from basic care to root canals and crowns. He has been busy, seeing 8-10 patients per day in an office at the health department.
"We see a lot of infections, a lot of people in pain who otherwise could not afford treatment," he said. "People have been extremely thankful. Tooth pain is very debilitating, Some were ending up in the emergency room at the hospital."
Teeth are being saved, thanks to the expanded services, versus having to be pulled, he said.
Adult patient Savanna Alexander was relieved for the program.
"They took great care of me. Now I can eat again," she said.
The dental clinic has upgraded its equipment with a $81,000 grant from Colorado Cares. Additional funding from the Colorado Health Foundation allowed them to increase the days there is a dentist in the office.
The county dentist office also sees 1,300 children covered by Medicaid per year.
Health director Bobbi Lock said low-income residents who do not qualify for Medicaid can also get dental care at the clinic.
"We work out a sliding scale price, and they pay in monthly installments," she said. "A lot of times they qualify for Medicaid and don't realize it."
Dental hygienists visit local schools twice per year to provide dental services. An additional hygienist was hired to handle the increase in patient services.
"It's a pretty upscale dentist office with an experienced doctor," Lock said.
The expanded Medicaid services for adult dental care is a result of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. It is expected to bring dental coverage to 17.7 million low-income adults by 2018.
For more information or to set up a dental appointment, call (970) 564-4764 or (970) 564-4774.