Meharry Medical College’s School of Dentistry has a reputation for producing exceptional dentists for decades. Talking to dentists at the school’s Oral Health Day this fall showed just how committed they are to the greater good of the community. For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Meharry dentists and dental students offered free dental care to members of the community — 40 dentists, 140 students and 310 patients. It’s only the beginning, since from now on the school will offer two events per year.

Dental care is often inaccessible due to some patients’ lack of insurance coverage and procedures’ prohibitive cost. As a result, untreated tooth decay is quite common, especially among people who have low income. When dentists perform extractions, fillings and cleanings, they’re doing more than providing services. They’re also often counseling patients and trying to reverse trauma. This year — the first Oral Health Day that kids could join in — was surely an extra heavy lift.

While it’s sad that people find themselves getting in line at 6 a.m. for an 8 a.m. event just to get care they need, we have to extend a thank-you to the School of Dentistry students and professionals who make it possible. These saints donated their time to be reassuring faces, offering comfort to folks in a chair that nobody particularly wants to sit in.

—Hannah Herner

Health Care Reporter, Nashville Scene and Nashville Post

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