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Action for Dental Health

Traveling Massachusetts Dentist Treats Children Suffering from Severe Cavities

July 23, 2014

Dr. Leslee Huggins, a pediatric dentist based in Northbridge, Mass., noticed an alarming trend in New England several years ago. 

Children with severe cavities were referred to hospitals with long waiting lists in major metropolitan areas because their treatment required general anesthesia. The result was that many children waited six to nine months for treatment.  Travel over long distances to get to these hospitals also proved problematic, according to Dr. Huggins. 

“Most of these cases involved otherwise healthy children with severe dental problems,” she said. “In my opinion, going to a hospital nearby to take care of these children was a more realistic, timely way they would be able to receive the care they needed.” 

In October 2009, Dr. Huggins and her dental assistant started traveling to about a dozen hospitals where she is credentialed in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire. 

“For the first year we took any open time the hospitals would give us,” she said. “About two years into the program, we were finally able to have a regular, predictable schedule with each hospital.” 

Dr. Huggins relies on two people who help schedule all her appointments, she said. Other dentists screen the children and refer them to Dr. Huggins, who performs surgeries three days per week. During that time, she provides care for about 12 to 16 children. 

“I’m able to bring in my own assistant, and the hospitals have a circulating nurse in our room, as well as a nurse anesthetist,” she said. “There is also an anesthesiologist who is overseeing our operating room for the day.” 

Dr. Huggins, through her employment, provides most of the equipment needed, she added. The hospitals provide an operating room and a recovery room.  

“Many of these children receive care within four weeks,” she noted. “Because of this program, we are now able to offer services for children to receive the desperately needed dental care closer to their communities and with a greatly reduced waiting period.”