From the #deltadentalARFoundation: The Dental Clinic at CARTI is a calm, almost serene place. The walls and furnishings are painted in neutral beige and grey tones, and the décor is limited to a handful of bright watercolors by local artists. It’s an environment designed to soothe the fears of desperate patients.

They fear not necessarily the dentist but the C word: cancer. The dental clinic treats high-risk patients who need oral care before starting radiation or chemotherapy for cancers of the head or neck. Frequently, they require the services of an oral surgeon to perform complex teeth extractions or fit customized prosthetic devices.

A #communitygrant from the Delta Dental of Arkansas Foundation helps defray the costs for uninsured and low-income Arkansans.

Uninsured and low-income often translates into poor oral health, explains Jennifer Brown, RDH, BSDH, the clinic’s full-time oncology dental hygienist.

“Nine out of 10 patients haven’t seen a dentist in 20 years or more,” she says, adding, “Some tell us they don’t even want us to look at their mouth.”

But no, they need not feel self-conscious or embarrassed, Jennifer emphasizes.

All patients receive the compassionate, expert dental care they need in preparation for their cancer treatments. If not addressed, advanced tooth decay or gum disease could lead to infections, worsen the side effects of cancer treatments, or even delay urgently needed therapy.

The Dental Clinic staff also provides post-treatment follow-up care, including detailed instructions on taking care of their new dentures and remaining teeth.

For many, it’s the first time somebody teaches them how to brush and floss and explains the link between oral and overall health, Jennifer says.

She’s hoping to expand the educational program statewide. Earlier this year, she became certified as a Systemic Educator and started training the staff at other CARTI locations to become “Dental Health Champions.”

Wow. What an inspiring way to empower Arkansans with the education and care they need during one of the hardest journeys of their life.

Is your organization bringing renewed hope and smiles to your community? Perhaps we can help with funding. Check out our grant opportunities at here

CARTI Community Grant Description

Dr. Phelan CARTI

CARTI Dentist treating a patient

CARTI Dental Clinic