Appalachian Highlands Community Dental Center

Appalachian Highlands Community Dental Center Provides Dentures to 66 Patients in Southwest Virginia

May 28, 2024

The 14th Appalachian Highlands Community Dental Center (AHCDC) / Virginia Dental Association Foundation Mission of Mercy denture clinic was held recently. The event was led by the Virginia Dental Association Foundation Board of Directors and Co-Directors of the Mission of Mercy Denture Team, Drs. Scott R. Miller and Stephen B. Alouf. The event was not advertised due to demand limitations. Sixty-six patients received dentures in Southwest Virginia, a region with a lack of access to dental care, unaffordable denture options, and a region crippled with substance use disorder, opioid use disorder, and stimulant use disorder. The patients were chosen from the wait list that continues to grow. There are 52 patients still on a waitlist for dentures for the next clinic in October.

104 denture arches were completed by benchmark two-step process on-site May 16th and 17th. The total value of care provided at no cost was $145,956. Johnston Memorial Hospital Advanced Education General Dentistry (AEGD) residents and Virginia Commonwealth University student volunteers also completed twenty-one extractions, denture adjustments, denture relines, and five pre-prosthetic surgeries.

Site Director Dr. Scott Miller led this event. “There are no words that I can say that could compare to the before and after photos and the genuine smiles of the patients last week. There are so many benefits to this clinic – having teeth broadens what a person can eat, and there are elements of security, dignity, and empowerment, as well as workforce and economic development. There are 65 fewer people that I will have the pleasure of talking to who will no longer begin the conversation with their hand covering their mouth,” said AHCDC Clinic Site Director Scott Miller, D.D.S.

“We are thankful for our partnership with volunteer faculty, Virginia Dental Association Foundation, and Johnston Memorial Hospital. Sixty-six grateful patients left the dental center with beautiful smiles. How can you help? The average cost per arch is $877 per Medicaid fees. Private practice fees could be up to $5,800 per set. We provide this service to the underserved at no cost. If you or someone is interested in supporting this initiative, we would love to discuss ways you can support this organization,” said AHCDC Executive Director Elaine Smith, RDH, MDH.

“The VDAF has long striven to address access to dental care in Southwest VA and through our partnership with the Appalachian Highlands Community Dental Center, a long-term solution is developing. We are honored to support not only linking area residents to a permanent dental home and ongoing oral health care, but to witness the critical impact this care often has on an individual’s overall health and well-being, employment prospects, and even mental health. Good oral health can offer hope and unlock the door to newfound opportunity,” said Virginia Dental Association Foundation Executive Director Tara Quinn.