April 30, 1991

For once, government agencies have put their heads together and have come up with a plan that works well for everyone. All sides reap solid benefits: students at the University of Maryland's dental school get willing patients; women on a welfare job-training program get their teeth fixed and build their self-confidence, and the health department saves on its long-term dental bills.

It is great to see this kind of partnership. The dental school is eager to find a pool of patients so students can refine their skills under professorial supervision. What better source than women who are ashamed of their appearance because of their decayed and neglected teeth?

For welfare participants in Project Independence, this lets them take pride in their smiles and gain confidence in their ability to join the work force without hiding their teeth from view. That already has made a difference in the job-training program. Taking care of dental problems now should cut the state's future Medicaid bills.

Three government agencies parlayed their separate needs into a program that is paying big dividends all around. It makes you want to smile.

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