We Restore Lives, One Tooth at a Time
In 2003, a coalition of local churches recognized a dire need in our Appalachian community — the need for medical and dental care for those who cannot afford it. They pitched in and rented a medical/dental van for an intensive, three-day free clinic. At the end of those three days, hundreds of dental patients still had to be turned away, many in tears. Clearly, something more would have to be done.
Today, the dream of those founding churches has been realized in the form of the Blue Ridge Free Dental Clinic, now in a permanent location in Cashiers, North Carolina. The Clinic provides high quality restorative dental care to hundreds of needy patients each year from the surrounding tri-county area, many of whom have never seen the inside of a dentist’s office.
Over the past 11 years, the Clinic has made earnest efforts to increase its capacity to serve patients. In 2005, the Clinic was operating in a 1,400 square-foot space with used equipment and served 221 patients with one volunteer dentist and a hygienist. In 2013, through thoughtful planning — and with sustainable resources available — Board leadership enthusiastically supported a renovation of the Clinic that doubled its size to 3,000 square feet and provided the facility with new, state-of-the-art equipment within six operatories. In November 2016, donor and foundation support enabled the Clinic to upgrade its radiology and charting systems to digital technology.
Under the leadership of an active Board of Directors, the Clinic currently serves patients in our community with 11 Volunteer Dentists, two Registered Dental Hygienists and three Dental Assistants. In early 2016, Dr. Michelle McDonald, a founding Volunteer Dentist with the Clinic, was hired as the Clinic’s Dental Director. She works with patients two-three days a week and is able to focus on the preventative needs of our patients, as well as guide our patients through their treatment plans with compassion. Additionally, a full-time Executive Director and full-time Clinic Operations Director guide the nonprofit’s mission to provide dental care to low-income residents of Jackson, Macon, Swain and Transylvania counties.
The Blue Ridge Free Dental Clinic relies on the selfless dedication of volunteer dental professionals, staff and Board members, and the generous support of a caring community. Although we make the most of every dollar, there are many more people in need of our services — please make a donation today and help us give someone less fortunate the life-changing gift of a healthy, pain-free smile.
Blue Ridge Mountains Health Project, Inc. is a registered not-for-profit organization with federal 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. All donations are tax deductible.
Quick Facts About Our Clinic
- The Clinic is the only source for low-income, uninsured persons to receive vital restorative dental care in a four-county area of Western North Carolina.
- Our dentists are fully licensed and provide all of their professional services free of charge.
- The Clinic is supported by the generous donations of local churches, foundations and caring individuals. We do not depend on government support for continuing operations.
- Patients must provide proof of legal residency and income before any services are rendered.
- During 2016, the Clinic:
- Treated 569 patients through 1,392 patient visits
- Performed 4,178 procedures including 769 comprehensive exams, 1,110 x-rays, 707 fillings, 1,180 extractions, 8 root canals, 144 cleanings and 53 prosthetics such as partials or dentures. The services provided in 2016 have a market value of $788,875.