The Good Samaritan Center of Loudon County

Healthy Lives, Healthy Smiles

Nationally and locally, access to dental care is a major challenge for low-income adults. The importance of dental care is seen in the link between poor oral health and significant chronic illnesses, leading to economic loss for everyone. Through donations and grants, the Good Samaritan Center of Loudon County (GSC) currently provides some funding for emergency extractions. However, resources are inadequate to meet demand, and no other dental option exists for these adults. Unlike surrounding counties, there is no free clinic. Our clients with severe dental pain go to the emergency room, but the cause remains unresolved. Clients report that lack of money and transportation are the main reasons regular dental visits are unrealistic. Additional barriers are limited awareness, knowledge, and habits related to good oral health.

Grant funds will allow GSC to address barriers and bring together key stakeholders, seek and evaluate existing models, recruit more dental professionals, and gather information necessary to develop a viable, sustainable solution. We have agreements from GSC Dental Advisory Group (including three dentists, our county’s Health Council, and other stakeholders) and commitments from our partners (Hiwassee College Dental Hygiene Program, Premier Dental Group, and local dentists) to enact a trial of our new, more comprehensive model–going beyond the only emergency to preventive and restorative services. Funds will support Hiwassee and Premier services, gas vouchers, supplies. All other activities are non-cost. Ongoing data collection will guide adjustments. GSC has an excellent record of community service, with dedicated volunteers and staff to manage this program.