City-run dental center serves children in Gloucester

Wicked Local Gloucester, Feb 22, 2013
Gloucester —
The City of Gloucester Children’s Dental Center aims to increase access to dental care for children and to improve the oral health of children by providing dental services and education.

And now it’s aiming to raise more awareness about itself.

The center – located in the Curtis B. Clark building (the old Armory) at 99 Prospect St. – always accepts children under 21 whose families have Mass Health or CMSP insurance.

“We’re just very proud of what we do,” said Jill Marston, Dental Center administrator for the center, which opened in 2000. “We are really getting some success now that we’re seeing younger kids and giving them consistent care. We want to make sure there are fewer problems as they go into high school.”

Two dentists provide services at the center, which is funded through the state insurance programs and grants on a fee-for-service basis: Dr. Benjamin Polan, who runs a private practice in the Cummings Center in Beverly, and Dr. Jay Schawab, a retired pediatric dentist.

The center can provide transportation if absolutely necessary, but it prefers to have the parents involved in the dental care experience.

The center provides emergency care, dental exams, X-rays, cleanings, dental sealants, fluoride treatments, fillings, extractions of teeth and education.

The center has plans to work with local pediatrics on an education campaign about good dental hygiene and urge eligible families to seek their services as early as they can.  

The younger they are seen, the better, Marston said. It can help prevent issues such as bottle rot, severe decay in teeth among toddlers.

“We’re starting to see patients at a much younger age, at 1 and a half years old,” Marston said. “The goal is to work with pediatricians and give them information for when a new baby is born. Things like not putting the child to bed with milk, and what the best pacifiers are, what teeth should come in at what age. We just want folks to have a little more of an idea what to expect and know that it’s just as important to come to the dentist as it is to go to the pediatrician. When you see children with infections, it just breaks your heart.”

Currently, the center is serving about 1,200 patients, mostly from Cape Ann. Some that have left Cape Ann retained the center’s services.

“A lot of people don’t know we’re here,” Marston said. “We have brochures and pamphlets, and we’re on the city website under the Board of Health, but I was shocked that so many people didn’t know we were here.”

The dental center’s office hours are Mondays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Tuesdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Thursdays, 8-11 a.m. and Friday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information: 978-281-5885; email

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