Our Story

The Local Start Dental vision and mission meet a critical need in North Carolina as the clinic restores smiles and confidence for underserved neighbors while advancing the clinical skills of dental students and professionals.

Local Start Dental began in 2018 as a conversation between the former President of Affordable Care LLC, Doug Brown (who is now Local Start Dental’s Chairman of the Executive Comittee), and former Dean of UNC’s Adams School of Dentistry, Dr. Scott De Rossi. Together, they saw a challenge: Most patients in need have very few options for obtaining dentures and tooth replacement services, while dental students training at the UNC clinic in Chapel Hill do not have enough patients with missing teeth to adequately learn denture techniques. Brown and De Rossi were inspired to consider creative new ways to combine advanced clinical training for dental students and professionals and use that training to meet the dental health needs of underserved populations. Thus, Local Start Dental was born.

Approximately 30% of all North Carolinians over age 65 have no natural teeth, and the state has more than twice the national rate of costly emergency room dental visits where patients generally receive treatment only for pain, and not for the underlying causes of dental distress.

Edentulous adults are often treated as second-class citizens, facing economic barriers as well as health-related problems. Adults missing only a few teeth often encounter difficulties finding jobs commensurate with their abilities and are relegated to low-paying positions or unemployment.

Untreated oral infections and decay promote a multi-year deterioration process, often leading to infection in other areas of the body and to larger health issues such as diabetes and stroke. Yet, despite the large public health implications of oral disease, only 27% of dentists statewide accept Medicaid (it is 42% nationally), and Medicare does not cover dental services.


What makes Local Start Dental Unique?

Combines a national dental training center with free and discounted care for qualified patients in the Triangle and beyond

A faculty-led UNC Adams School of Dentistry (ASOD) student practice with advanced continuing education sessions for licensed dentists from NC and nationwide with a focus on implants, oral surgery, and dentures

Tuition from these sessions, in addition to Medicaid/VA payments, sliding-scale fees, and philanthropy, will create sustainable long-term annual operating support

Caregivers include a full-time practice clinical director, UNC ASOD faculty, UNC dental students, dentists in UNC graduate specialty training, local and national volunteer dentists, hygienists, dental assistants, and social workers

Patient transportation assistance is available, please inquire for more details

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