A dentist holds a model of teeth and a toothbrush in Seattle on Friday, Aug. 3, 2018. Credit: Elaine Thompson / AP

PORTLAND, Maine — A state that has among the fewest dentists in the Northeast will soon expand dental care access.

Maine has about 55 dentists per 100,000 residents, which is below the national average of about 61 and well below New England states such as Massachusetts and Connecticut. State officials said Wednesday more than 200,000 Maine residents will start getting access to dental care coverage on Friday.

That’s the day dental care will become available to Maine residents who use MaineCare insurance. MaineCare will cover preventative, restorative and diagnostic care, officials said.

The change is the result of a bill proposed by Democratic House Speaker Ryan Fecteau and approved by the Maine Legislature. Members of the medical industry in the state said the expansion of dental coverage will be especially important for residents of rural Maine, who often lack access to care.

The expansion of dental care is “a game changer for oral health equity” in the state, said Bryan Wyatt of the Maine Primary Care Association.