Carestream Dental provides equipment to clinic delivering care to underserved populations

There is no doubt that good oral healthcare can change lives, but accessing that care can be a challenge. Cost, a maldistribution of dentists, age and even dental fear are all barriers to care*. Thus, Carestream Dental has partnered with Local Start Dental, a new clinic in North Carolina, United States, that specialises in meeting the needs of the area’s most vulnerable populations — veterans, the elderly and low-income adults — by providing free or discounted care.

Co-founded by Doug Brown, former president of Affordable Care LLC, and Dr Scott De Rossi, former dean of UNC’s Adams School of Dentistry, and led by its present interim dean, Dr Julie Byerley, who has proudly and enthusiastically continued the legacy of Local Start Dental, the clinic meets several needs in the Research Triangle (the area comprising of Durham, Raleigh and Chapel Hill, NC) area. It provides care for underserved populations by connecting them with dental students from the Adams School of Dentistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who will gain invaluable practice and exposure at the clinic.

“Our name stands for Life-Changing Oral Care and Learning, which describes the benefits that this practice will provide to North Carolina,” said Brown. “Untreated dental issues create significant health, societal and economic challenges for thousands of individuals that are missing teeth. We are grateful for partners like Carestream Dental whose generosity is helping us to provide services that will be life-changing for many in our community.”

What started as an idea in 2018 has come to fruition as a 5,000 sq. ft. facility that saw its grand opening in late summer 2021. But as with any new clinic, especially a non-profit one, the need for state-of-the-art equipment was top of mind.

Carestream Dental met that need with a donation of a CS 9600 CBCT system, a CS 3700 intraoral scanner and CS ScanFlow software, RVG 6200 sensors and a CS 2400P portable generator. From the first exam when digital bitewings are needed to understand the initial clinical situation to handling the most complicated cases requiring 3D imaging or implant planning, this technology is designed to seamlessly work together to cover the full spectrum of care. Practitioners can make more confident diagnoses and patients see better outcomes sooner.

“Part of Carestream Dental’s mission is ‘Changing Lives,’ so Local Start Dental’s mission really resonated with us,” said Jeremy Thomas, general manager of the Americas region, Carestream Dental. “As they so rightly point out, society can be prejudiced against edentulous adults, so replacing a tooth isn’t just about giving someone their smile back — it’s giving them their lives back. And if it also means dental students are getting the experience they need, then all the better!”

Local Start Dental features 10 operatories, four staffed by faculty-supervised students and six overseen by local volunteer licensed dentists. The clinic is predicted to assist 3,000 patients annually, while 160 third- and fourth-year dental students will gain valuable clinical experience.

*Bersell, C. (2017). Access to Oral Health Care: A National Crisis and Call for Reform. American Dental Hygienists’ Association. 91 (1) 6-14.