'Can be pretty scary:' MATC students provide care to clients with disabilities amid statewide shortage

MILWAUKEE -- The president of the Wisconsin Dental Association said there is a major shortage of dentists in the state who can treat patients with disabilities. An MATC program is helping to expand access to dental care.

Ambrosia Camargo is studying to be a dental hygienist at MATC. The lesson on Monday, Oct. 21 involved a bit more explaining.

MATC dental hygiene students gave free exams to people at the Milwaukee Center for Independence (MCFI). For them, there are a lot of things at the dentist that can be overwhelming.

MATC dental students provide care to MCFI clients

Nancy Pickett

"There's a lot of different things that are going into their mouth," said Nancy Pickett, senior director of Life Services. "Some things that they don't usually see. That can be pretty scary for folks."

Dental care for people with disabilities isn't easy to come by. Officials with MCFI said it can be hard to find dentists trained to work with some people in their care. Visits like the one Monday from the MATC students help fill the need.

"Gradually, some of our folks have really become more accustom and cooperative, not only with the students but also with their own dentist and are able to have better dental care," said Pickett.

MATC dental students provide care to MCFI clients

MATC dental students provide care to MCFI clients

And with each exam, another hygienist enters the industry better equipped to serve all kinds of people.

Earlier this year, the American Dental Association changed its code of conduct prohibiting dentists from denying care based on disability.