OAKLAND – Shannon Grip and her children have been visiting the Waterville Community Dental Center for years. So they naturally went to the long-time center of Waterville for weddings on Wednesday, only to realize they were in the wrong place.

After more than 18 years at The Center, the non-profit dental center moved into a new space at First Park in Oakland at the end of December to allow the project to transform the center into a downtown arts hub. city.

"It's beautiful," Albion's Grip said, as his two children were being cleaned on Wednesday. "It's a total upgrade. It really is. It's just brighter. There is more space. Nobody bumps on it. "

The move represents a $ 1.2 million investment in the Dental Center, which specializes in providing affordable dental care to low-income, uninsured and underinsured patients.

During the past year, the center has raised almost all the necessary funds. He recently received a grant of $ 500,000 from the Harold Alfond Foundation and is now only $ 35,000 short of his goal.

"It's miraculous," said Barbara Covey, chair of the Waterville Community Dental Center's board of directors. "At the same time, I knew from the beginning that if people really understood the importance of this, we could get support from the community."

For Covey, it's essential to keep the center alive in a new space, as dental care is the foundation of overall health and is often difficult for low-income and uninsured patients to access. taking care.

Maine is one of 13 states that do not provide dental care, except emergency work, for adults via Medicaidalthough children can access preventative care through MaineCare.

The new space at 2 Evergreen Drive moves the center of an aging area of ​​the Center to a renovated physiotherapy office that, says the staff, will serve their patients much better.

Rachel Ohm can be reached at 612-2368 or at:

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Twitter: rachel_ohm

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