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State's Public Health Dental Clinics staying closed

Katie Peikes
Delaware Public Media

The state announced this week it will no longer take appointments for dental services.

The state closed its Public Health Dental Clinics at the onset of the pandemic and now decided to close them indefinitely.

Officials cite the declining number of patients seen at the clinics in recent years.

The number of individual visits went down from about 3,500 in 2015 to roughly 1,700 at the start of the pandemic. Delaware had reduced its number of dental clinics from 12 to five statewide. 

Director of the state Bureau of Oral Health and Dental Services Dr. Nick Conte says the decline in patients is due to a shift in the bureau’s focus away from brick and mortar.


“Now the thought process is a little bit different," said Conte. "Not only is the thought process to go more towards where your patient or the person in need might be, or the real highlight for public health is to provide education and case management.”   


Conte notes his bureau will continue its mobile Smile Check program in Delaware schools. And he adds they hope to eventually use two of the former clinics for oral cancer screenings.

Conte says information as well as referrals were sent to the state’s oral patients regarding the closure.


“We’ve sent letters and reached out to anyone that had been an active patient of ours in the last couple years, and then we’ll work with them to place them with a provider in their community,” said Conte.