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For Immediate Release

Date: 03/08/11

Rep. Strang Burgess Recognized as 'Oral Health Hero'

AUGUSTA - State Rep. Meredith Strang Burgess was honored recently as an "Oral Health Hero" by the Maine Dental Access Coalition. The award is given to people and programs that have demonstrated outstanding leadership and a strong commitment to improving the state of oral health in Maine through oral health advocacy, organizing and service.

Rep. Strang Burgess (R-Cumberland), the daughter of a dentist, is serving her third term in the Legislature and is currently the House chair of the Health and Human Services Committee. The Dental Access Coalition recognized her for her strong advocacy for many health issues, including support for a Maine dental school, increasing MaineCare services by including adults, and enabling dental health providers to see more MaineCare beneficiaries by increasing payment rates.

Last November, Maine residents voted in favor of a bond issue to raise money for more dental clinics and the state's first dental school. "We have a dental care crisis in Maine, primarily in lack of access," said Rep. Strang Burgess. "According to a study done last year, dental disease was a leading cost driver for emergency department services. We also know that there is a proven link between gum disease and heart disease and stroke.

"Passage of the bond in November means thousands of new patient visits throughout the state," she added. "By establishing a dental school here, we hope more Maine students will go into the field and hopefully stay here to practice. Over time, we will be able to do a much better job of providing access to dental care."

Other "Oral Health Heroes" recognized by the coalition include Robert Berube, DDS, an Augusta oral surgeon; David Kerr, DDS, a general dentist in Falmouth; and Jonathan Shenkin, DDS, a pediatric dentist in Augusta. The Dental Wellness Center in Biddeford also was cited for providing free oral health prevention and treatment services to individuals who have no source of payment. Those services are provided by volunteer dentists and other dental staff. ###

Jay Finegan
Maine House Republicans
Tel: (207) 287-1445