It’s often said that your smile is your “business card” as someone’s first impression. Or that “you’re never fully dressed without a smile.” If that’s true, there are many people who need outfitting, and are closed for business due to life circumstances keeping them from dental care. Dental health is not only related to overall physical health, but also to a positive self-image.
The Community Dental Clinic (CDC) helps restore smiles and lives.
The CDC was established in 2009 out of concern for those with extreme oral health needs. Local emergency department visits for tooth-related issues rose, and school administrators noted decay, swelling and missed school days in children. In addition, substance abuse advocates saw limited options for patients with severe dental needs. From this desperate need, the CDC began its work to give qualifying individuals an opportunity to have a healthy smile. The focus is to treat the underserved population of people with Medicaid, or low-income families without dental insurance.
From 2009 through October 2011, the clinic was staffed by several part-time dentists. In 2011, Dr. Brandon Taylor became the first full-time Dentist/Director of the clinic. Although the clinic has always provided services to children in some capacity, since Dr. Taylor’s arrival, the clinic has been able to increase the number and types of services offered.
The practice serves Daviess, Hancock, Henderson, McLean, Ohio, Union, and Webster counties. Though not routine, the clinic has seen patients from neighboring counties with exceptional needs. They do not see anyone with private insurance.
The clinic’s goal is to be a dental home for patients, not simply for dental emergencies. CDC aims to change how people view the dentist and personal oral health. Services provided include restoration (fillings), surgical (extractions), and preventative (cleanings, exams, and radiographs). Patients range in age from 5-105.
There are approximately 26,000 adults and children in Daviess County alone, and over 97,000 in our region that currently have Medicaid and are in need of services. This number does not reflect patients not qualifying for Medicaid services. Those numbers give an example of the daunting task placed before the staff of the CDC, made up of 2 dentists, 1 hygienist, and staff.
CDC understands that collaboration yields the best results, and has developed successful partnerships with local organizations that include Owensboro Health, Green River District Health Department, Wendell Foster, River Valley Behavioral Health, Mary Kendall, Lighthouse Recovery, Boulware Mission, OASIS, Dismas Charities, and Owensboro Regional Recovery. Several of these serve individuals facing substance-abuse-related dental issues. CDC recognizes that dental health is an integral part of the healing process. They reduce pain, help maintain sobriety, and improve chances for landing a job with a restored “business card.”
On April 29, 2016, the Community Dental Clinic will host the first Oral Health Regional Summit at Owensboro Health. The vision is to unite a diverse group of community leaders like local policy makers, health advocates and professionals, educators, as well as students to increase dental awareness among stakeholders and the public while developing strategies to combat widespread dental access issues in Western Kentucky. Anyone interested can register at kyoralhealthcoalition.org. Attendance is limited to 125.
On May 14, 2016, the CDC is going to provide free Oral Health Assessments at the International Bar-B-Q Festival, while educating festivalgoers on issues related to oral health and wellness.
The clinic is a “home grown” local, non-profit organization solely focused on dental health needs. No funding is received from federal or state organizations, including any university. All funding comes from non-sustainable Medicaid reimbursements and contributions/grants from local individuals and organizations. Recently, the CDC has received generous support from Owensboro Health, Good Samaritan, Michael Horn Foundation, United Way, Daviess County Fiscal Court, the Women’s Guild, and Yeager Trust.
How can you help “dress” those with dental needs in the community? Anyone can make a tax-deductible donation or encourage organizations that they are a part of to support the CDC’s efforts financially and politically. One by one, support can help fully dress a person in need with an improved healthy business card. Now that’s something to smile about!
Find the Community Dental Clinic on Facebook or visit owensborodentalclinic.com.