Health centers in Maryland were awarded $1.75 million in federal funding to expand dental services to underserved populations in the state.
The money is part of a pot of $156 million doled out to 420 health centers in 47 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico to increase access to oral health services.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said the funds could pay for 1,600 new dentists, dental hygienists, assistants and technicians to treat about 785,000 more patients.
Officials say the funding recognizes that dental care can affect overall health, and lack of treatment can lead to infections and pain and other problems.
In Maryland, dental plans are now available on the online health exchange for the uninsured, increasing the number of people with public and private coverage. However, not everyone has had access to dental care facilities and professionals.
"Oral health is an important part of our overall physical health and well-being,” HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said in a statement. “The funding we are awarding will reduce barriers to quality dental care for hundreds of thousands of Americans by bringing new oral health providers to health centers across the country.”
In Maryland, Chase Brexton Health Services, Family Health Centers and Health Care for the Homeless in Baltimore will each receive $350,000. The Community Clinic in Silver Spring and Walnut Street Community Health Center in Hagerstown will also get the same amount.