AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va -- Two years have passed since dental patient Ann Jenkins has sat in a dentist's chair. That changed when her gums started to bleed.
“I had to come back because of the bleeding. That's what scared me, really,” said Jenkins.
Research from the University of Virginia shows people, especially in the western parts of Virginia, skip trips to the dentist. That is because of income and the number of dentists the region.
Skipping dental visits, either at a free clinic or at a dentist's office, can have health ramifications outside of your mouth. It also affects your entire body, like your cardiovascular system.
That is what scared Jenkins.
“I'm like what? I didn't know that. So, I'm just glad I don't have no infections; it could be worse than it is.”
Dental Service Director Chris Harman said some patients might be too embarrassed to get their teeth clean. That is another reason people stay away from dental offices.
“But I also say, 'You know, let's just get past that and give you a nice, bright smile and a healthy mouth,'” said Harman.
Jenkins' teeth needed work, but she was thankful she was able to get some help, especially since dental work can be pricey. She did not spend any money at the clinic, thanks mostly to money from Medicaid.
“I feel like this is just a blessing, like I said, and then, to know, that they wouldn't have to pull the teeth that I thought they would,” said Jenkins. “I thank God for this dental clinic.”
The Augusta Regional Dental Clinic treats around 2500 patients each year. They have two dentists on staff for those patients. The clinic accepts patients with no insurance and also people who have medicaid.
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