Providing critical dental treatment to the needy in Jackson Macon Swain & Transylvania Counties of Western North Carolina

Patient Stories

Expressing Gratitude

Luis painting the Clinic
From small cash donations and notes to donations of artwork and meals—and even painting services, our patients express their gratitude in so many heart-warming ways. For us, seeing our patients smile again is always thanks enough

Patient Luis and his wife Maria have been coming to the Clinic for the past six months. Referred by board member and weekly office volunteer, Peggy Wike, Luis and his family were in need of dental care and a little nudge to practice better preventative care. During one of his cleanings, Luis expressed a desire to give back to the Clinic. Hygienist Linda Wood mentioned that we always accept patient donations to help cover costs. Luis said: "No, I want to do more." And do more, he did.

Luis, accompanied by Maria, took a day off from work and painted several walls at the Clinic. Before beginning, we expressed that just two walls were in need of paint. But as Luis painted, we loved the color and mentioned that we could hire him to paint four more walls in the same color. Luis refused payment for his services and simply said, "You helped me and my family. I want to help you now!"

Importance of Medical History in Dental Care

Many of the Clinic's patients are surprised to find out how important medical history is for dental care. There are many interrelationships between general health and oral health; there are also interactions of drugs and treatments that affect dental care. Patients who have had surgeries that result in metal in the body are typically required to take an antibiotic before dental procedures to reduce the risk of bacteria entering the blood stream. A history of heart disease, glaucoma, high blood pressure and/or diabetes very often affect how our dentists treat a patient. Clinic staff assess blood pressure for all patients and are also able to get a blood sugar reading for patients. These screenings may detect chronic, but manageable, conditions of hypertension and/or diabetes. Referral partnerships with organizations like Community Care Clinic of Highlands-Cashiers and Blue Ridge Health allow us to help our patients seek medical help and begin improving their overall health.

Patient Ed knows all too well the importance of medical history in dental care. When Ed first came to the Clinic he revealed a history of multiple occurrences of cancer as well as radiation to treat the cancer. Our staff dentist, Dr. Michelle McDonald discovered a need to restore several teeth and extract four teeth that were beyond restoration through fillings. Dr. McDonald consulted with Ed's oncologist who recommended hyperbaric oxygen treatment before and after Ed's extractions. This treatment would help Ed heal from the procedures; previous radiation treatments left Ed vulnerable to infections. The cost for the hyperbaric treatments are high—a grave concern for Ed and his family.

An alternative to the extractions, and the hyperbaric treatment, would be four root canals and two crowns. Dr. McDonald presented Ed's predicament to seasonal volunteer Endodondist Dr. Tommy Day. Dr Day typically performs 20-25 root canals at the Clinic during the summer months and usually just one per patient. Dr. Day was more than happy to perform root canals for Ed and save him the enormous expense of the hyperbaric treatment. Volunteer Dentist Dr. Paul DeCarlo was pleased to provide two crowns after the root canals.

Ed's oral health is completely restored and he was spared an expense that would have presented a hardship on his family. After 13 years of providing compassionate dental care to our less fortunate neighbors, our dental team continues to remove financial barriers to receiving high-quality, comprehensive dental care. We are honored to do so for all of our patients and especially, patients like Ed.