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Two rural Maine dental clinics to close amid staffing shortages

A nonprofit dental provider that serves low-income patients is closing two of its six clinics in Maine.

Community Dental will close its Rumford and Monson clinics near the end of November, affecting more than 2,000 patients.

CEO Kate Hopkins attributes the closures to staffing challenges. She says Community Dental hasn't been able to fill a hygienist position at the Monson clinic, and the Rumford clinic has been without a dentist for nearly a year.

"They are much more likely to want to go to places like Portland and other more populous areas because they're able to get employment with practices where they are going to be able to pay off their pretty heavy debt that they come out with," says Hopkins. "Most dentists, when they graduate from school, are graduating with upwards of half a million dollars in debt."

Hopkins says even though Maine is making strides to improve access to dental care through expanded MaineCare coverage for adults and increases in reimbursement rates, staff recruitment is still a major challenge.