What Our Dental Expansion Will Mean

NancyThis fall, Arlington Free Clinic will celebrate the opening of our new onsite dental clinic. Expanding our services from one part time dental chair in a remote location to three dental chairs in the same place that patients come to see their doctor, pick up their medications, and learn to manage their diabetes is a dream come true.

It was just over a year ago that long-time pharmacy volunteer Mary Mellon came to me with a gift to honor her father who died at a young age from an untreated tooth infection. Mary’s donation has inspired many others to give and helped us reach our dental campaign’s first $1M milestone several months back. We are well on our way to meeting our $1.5M year-end goal, which will fully fund our construction and help support dental operations in the coming years.

It’s exciting to imagine the many benefits of having oral healthcare within the Clinic footprint:

  • Better health outcomes: There is growing evidence of the link between oral health and overall health. Inflammation, the hallmark of gum disease, increases risk of stroke, heart disease, and even certain cancers. Diabetes is worsened when gums are inflamed, and certain treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation result in severe damage to teeth and gums.
  • Improved visibility: Having dental care right here will increase the likelihood that our volunteer doctors will recommend it to their patients—and raise patients’ awareness of this service. The friendly faces of our dental team will help combat the apprehension that so many of our patients have about dental care.
  • Increased collaboration: Dental care has been separate from the rest of healthcare in this country for far too long. It will be exciting to see all health professionals working side-by-side for the good of each patient.
  • Expanded capacity: In the first year of operations alone, we plan to increase the number of dental patients served from 350 to 800 and the number of appointments from 900 to close to 4,000.

I’m grateful to so many of you who have supported this dream of Mary’s—and AFC’s—to bring vital dental care to low-income members of our community. Dental care is expensive for everyone—but it is simply not an option for those in poverty, and most of our patients have not seen a dentist in years, if ever. If you share my excitement for this important project, I hope that you will consider a special year-end gift to the dental program, and celebrate with us as we reach our final goal.

We can’t wait to show you our new dental clinic!

Nancy White

Read our entire 2018 Annual Report here.

Patient Story: Gabriel & Diego—Brotherly Love
Message from our Medical Director: Caring For Very Seriously Ill Patients
AFC Highlights, July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018
Why I Volunteer: Margot Wheeler, MD
Donor Profile: “Lyfting” barriers to care
Practice Spotlight: Virginia Hospital Center Physician Group Cardiology
Message from our Board Chair