Filling the Gap in Dental Care through Arlington Free Clinic

Poor oral heath disproportionately impacts the low-income, disenfranchised individuals that make up Arlington Free Clinic’s patient population. We observed first-hand among those we serve in our medical clinic the need to fill this essential healthcare gap, and recognizing the relationship of oral health to overall health, we launched a modest Dental Program in 2015.

Borrowed space from Arlington County Department of Human Services (DHS) enabled our Oral Health Program’s start: we hired a dentist and dental assistant to use one of the chairs at the DHS building three days a week. But we always knew that a fully staffed, three-chair operatory would be key to improving efficiencies, productivity, and the mix of services essential to good oral health.

Our $1M Filling the Gap in Dental Care Capital Campaign was launched with a generous gift of $250K from Mary Mellon, a long-time volunteer and supporter. Mary’s father died when she was a teenager due to a tooth infection he could not afford to treat.

AFC’s Filling the Gap Campaign will not only triple the number of dental patients we can serve and increase the number of advanced procedures we perform – but will also allow us integrate our dental program into our main medical site. Once complete in November 2018, patients’ oral healthcare needs will be met in the same place where they receive medical care, pharmacy services, mental/behavioral healthcare, physical therapy, optometry, and health promotion education – an integrated, whole-patient model that has been shown to improve outcomes.

Exp Plan