We Restore Lives, One Tooth at a Time
The Blue Ridge Mountains Health Project, better known as the Blue Ridge Free Dental Clinic, delivers comprehensive dental care to people who cannot otherwise afford these critically needed services. We restore lives—one tooth at a time.
The Blue Ridge Mountains Health Project was formed in 2005 to create a permanent Free Dental Clinic. In 2013, the original space was renovated and used equipment was replaced with new, state-of-the-art equipment within six operatories. We serve low-income patients (at or below 200% of the poverty level) in Jackson, Macon, Swain and Transylvania counties with one Staff Dentist, 13 Volunteer Dentists, two Registered Dental Hygienists and two Dental Assistants. In 2016, donor and foundation support enabled the Clinic to upgrade its radiology and charting systems to digital technology.
Since 2005, the Clinic has performed 52,262 dental procedures with a value exceeding $7,800,000.
Delta Dental estimates that lifetime costs for the treatment of tooth decay can range from $1,788-$7,187. Medicare does not provide any dental services, and while Medicaid provides limited dental assistance, large portions of the needy population, particularly the working poor and elderly, do not qualify for that program. In 2015, 982,000 Americans made trips to an ER for preventable dental conditions. Duke University concluded that dental ER visits are more common among the uninsured, seldom result in definitive care or hospital admission, and often result in prescription of an opioid or antibiotic. At 81% of visits, the patient received an opioid prescription on discharge, and at 69% of visits, the patient received an antibiotic prescription on discharge. These findings are warrant a response from our Clinic. Our current focus on prevention aims to significantly reduce dental ER visits—as well as opiate prescriptions for dental pain— in WNC.
It is our hope that donations from the community investment will help stabilize our current efforts so that we may continue to: serve over 750 patients a year; offer continuity of care through patient treatment plans and restorative procedures; prevent dental disease through hygiene procedures; and, provide information on community resources to patients for their greater well-being.
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.
- Patients must provide proof of legal residency and income before any services are rendered.
- During 2017:
- The Clinic completed 5,530 procedures —a 32% increase over 2016. These services included: 1,316 extractions, 1,163 fillings, 451 cleanings, 29 dentures/partials, 31 crowns and 17 root canals.
- The services provided in 2017 have a market value of $1,100,000—all provided at no charge to the patient. It is well-known that limited financial resources are a barrier to dental care.