Palms and Sky  
Perspectives on Maui issues  


Dental Health Care Crisis in Maui County.
Maui elders, poor and disabled in urgent need of dental care.

by Mary Whispering Wind, March 15, 2010

Sitting on a wobbly chair on an old cement foundation slab, beneath a tarp-covered rough wooden 2 x 4 frame, patients quietly wait to have emergency dental services. Dried leaves dance around us in whirlwinds whipped up by the blustery trade winds on this early March morning in Kahului, Maui. There is a sudden crisp crack of the banners tied to the side of the Maui Dental Van, as the spray of ocean mists blow by us. Waiting in the row of old kitchen chairs, is a thirty-something single working mother, and a 14 year old girl, and disabled veteran’s widow. All eagerly await information on what will happen to their decaying teeth.

Most patients that come to the dental van, which is parked at Maui Community College, cannot afford regular dental care. Only the pain of a dental emergency sends them to seek help from Alex Pijpaert, DDS. Dr. Pijpaert and the very friendly staff make the patients feel well cared for, and the dental van offers by far the best deal in town. They will pull a tooth in an emergency for only thirty dollars. For most of Maui’s poor this is the extent of the care they can receive on Maui.

Maui elders with limited income, disabled persons, and the working poor all need proper dental care. Unfortunately it is impossible for them to pay the high cost of dental care on Maui. Contact your Hawaii house representatives and Hawaii Senators and let them know that you support dental coverage for Maui's disabled, elderly and low-income citizens.


Dental infections cause severe health problems.

Studies have shown that untreated dental conditions adversely affect heart and kidney health. Poor oral health can exacerbate diabetes, and can increase inflammatory markers. This increase in inflammation can contribute to vascular disease, and many other maladies.

Poor dental care drives up health care costs.

The health problems that are increased by poor dental health care drive up health care costs for everyone.  Including proper dental care coverage in health care plans could actually reduce long term costs. Yet still this vital facet of health care is completely missing from the current national health care debate.





RED ALERT: Hawaii Medical Emergency for dental care.

Patients that qualify for Medicaid cannot afford dental services!


We cannot continue to ignore the sad truth.

"Children, the elderly, and the working poor are disproportionately affected by the
access to oral health care crisis in the US."


"The disparity between the rich and poor
in America is shameful
~Walter Cronkite

It is shameful that here on Maui, we enjoy all the beauty and luxury of this tropical paradise, while our elders and infirmed live with rotten teeth! This silent epidemic is heartbreakingly sad.


Maui citizens, let's unite to help
find better solutions for Maui's
poor and low income dental patients.


Related Links:

Malama I Ke Ola Health Center, which has received $530,455 in stimulus funds for developing an area to house the dental program, which currently runs out of the dental van on the Maui Community College campus. Call 871-7772 for more information.

Dental care for native Hawaiians may be available, Maui News article: NA MOKU OLA: Hui No Ke Ola Pono offer dental care. February 21, 2010

General information on dental health in America ~ADHA Council on Education



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