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LifeLong Medical Care Addresses Dental Provider Shortages

Blog contribution: LifeLong Medical Care 

A severe shortage of dentists is leading safety-net clinics across the country to train primary care providers in basic dentistry. In many Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), physicians administering flu shots may also be looking for cavities and treating kids’ teeth with fluoride, according to Kaiser Family Foundation Health News. [1]

Not so at LifeLong Medical Care, where patients have access to highly skilled dentists and hygienists both in the health centers and through a mobile dental van that visits homeless encampments. LifeLong is also in its second year of a robust externship program training student dentists from Howard University.

Some of the patients say they never had a doctor or anybody who will look at them and see them as a real person – Dental Student at LifeLong

LifeLong’s dental program is featured in a video that premiered in March at the organization’s fundraising gala. As a member of the eighth cohort of Howard University dental externs, dental student Eteete Dan talked about the experience giving him a “newfound love for community dentistry.”

“You see a whole different side of dentistry that we don’t really see too much at school,” Dan says in the video. “We are able to experience all types of patients from all types of attendings. We really had to learn how to adapt to all types of personalities quickly, and also to be able to offer the most competent dentistry as we can.”

In the film, Chief Dental Officer Dr. Miriam Parker identifies dental care as crucial to comprehensive care and overall health. “LifeLong does a really good job at caring for those who are underserved, those who don’t have access to care,” Dr. Parker says.

Watch the full video below:


“Sometimes the need comes to us, and sometimes we go out looking for where there are gaps in care,” she says. “And there are more people falling into the need of public health services than ever before. Because life is expensive. These people are the sickest. They have the least. I’m sure you’d want to be in a space where people who care the most and know the most are going to be the ones caring for you.”

Dental student Dan noted how appreciative dental patients are. “Some of the patients say they never had a doctor or anybody who will look at them and see them as a real person,” he says. “They feel like people always overlook them because of the circumstances that they’re in. It was really insightful to see how much the little work we do can impact the community.”

You can learn more about LifeLong Medical Care HERE.