Smiling woman sitting in dentist chair and talking to her dentist before teeth examination.

U.P. Dental Clinic Provides Multigenerational Care

Throughout the U.S., rural residents are struggling to access basic health care. They’re often isolated and far from facilities offering regular checkups and emergency treatment. It’s an ongoing issue in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, including the Hannahville Indian Community.

This disparity is one of many reasons the Hannahville Dental Clinic is committed to meeting the population’s needs. For 20 years, patients have received general dental care like cleanings, radiographs, restorations, removable prosthodontics, fixed prosthodontics, oral surgery, endodontics, and periodontal therapy. With additional funding from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation and Superior Health Foundation, the clinic is amplifying its efforts with extended hours and mobile services.

“We are at the school, the elder’s complex, health fairs, and different community events providing oral education,” explains Angela Fornetti, DDS, Tribal Dentist. Helping children has been a vital part of growing the local patient-base. “Targeting this age group has helped the Hannahville Dental Clinic foster an excellent relationship with parents and other adults within the community.”

Many have returned to the clinic for comprehensive care, due to connections made during children’s visits. The staff treats Native Americans and Alaskan Natives of all ages, from the pregnancy stage to a child’s first tooth, young adulthood and beyond.

Clinic staff are always looking for new ways to improve oral maintenance and treatment. “In April of 2019, we hosted a pediatric dentist from California that is working at the forefront of silver diamine fluoride [application],” says Fornetti. Known as a “no shots no drilling” technique, this noninvasive procedure stops cavities and the spread of tooth decay.

The Hannahville Dental Clinic also focuses on early detection of certain diseases. They recently began oral cancer screenings, which have become popular among residents. “Patients are aware that oral cancer is on the rise and really appreciate the extra measure the dental clinic is taking to detect it,” Fornetti said.

The team is currently working on a strategy to educate adolescents on oral hygiene and external risk factors. Together, with the Hannahville Smoking Cessation Coordinator, they want to explore the potential side effects of vaping, smoking, and chewing. The goal is to start early and provide continuous multigenerational care.

For more information on the Hannahville Dental Clinic and its services, please call: (906) 723-2506.

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Photo credit: skynesher

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