Affordable dental care in Chattanooga is closer than many think

70% of adult Tennesseans say cost is a reason they haven't seen a dentist in over a year

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – A recent report from the Tennessee Justice Center suggests that when it comes to oral health and its outcomes, this state ranks near the bottom nationally.

Low-income families, people of color and those living in rural areas are at a higher risk due to a lack of insurance or costly procedures.

Chattanooga has a few places for affordable dental care, and one of them is in Ridgedale.

How long has it been since you saw the dentist? Has it been over a year? If so, you’re not alone. As a matter of fact, 70% of all Tennessee adults who haven’t seen a dentist say cost is the reason. For underserved populations like low-income people, that percentage goes up to 86%.

Coverage is a significant factor but having access to dental care also depends on providers who accept public insurance. Chattanooga has one such place in Revive Dental on Dodds Avenue. The practice has been open for six weeks, and they’ll take anyone. Dr. Kyle Daniel, who is part of the practice, wants to make sure that cost doesn’t prohibit anyone who needs dental care to come to Revive.

“There’s a huge population of people that can’t afford full-priced dental care, and, unfortunately, it’s just really expensive for that class of people, or, really, anyone not making a certain amount that doesn’t have the extra funds laying around,” says Daniel.

Jenny Klein is one example. She lives near the facility and is on disability. Her insurance only goes so far, and Revive’s $65 extraction fees fit into her and most low-income people’s budget.

“Here, it’s $65 extractions. That’s a huge thing when you’ve got something urgent and emergent going on. You need help, and I don’t have lots of money. A lot of people don’t this day and age. So, places like this are very beneficial.”

Cost isn’t the only barrier. Language is an issue as well. That is something Revive thought of as well.

Henry Hooks, a dental assistant at Revive is bilingual with Spanish. “Podemos servir todos los hispanohablantes y otros en la comunidad en Chattanooga, entonces ¡bienvenidos a Revive Dental!” (Translated: “We serve all Spanish-speakers and others in the community of Chattanooga, so welcome to Revive Dental!”)

State officials have requested close to 95 million dollars be allocated to the state department of health and two dentistry schools in the state to help make oral care more affordable. The question now is whether Governor Bill Lee will push that into the budget in the coming weeks.

Categories: Chattanooga, Hamilton County, Local News

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