Auburn Dental Clinic

The dental clinic for Auburn City Schools is celebrating its 50th anniversary. It's funded through donations and help from the United Way of Lee County.

Auburn City Schools’ main objective is to educate students from kindergarten through high school; however, the district also takes care of their teeth.

The Auburn City Schools Dental Clinic was established in 1969 to help families who may have trouble providing dental care for their children.

“The community churches and Auburn City Schools had many students that were uninsured and so this was a collaboration between the churches and Auburn City to address the needs of the dental care of these uninsured students,” said Joy Stanley, school counseling and social services director, as well as the dental clinic supervisor.

J.F. Drake Middle School houses a full dental clinic that fixes cavities and provides general cleanings.

“The children that we see now are students that are uninsured, and they meet certain low-income-household guidelines to qualify,” Stanley said.

Students who qualify for lunch assistance also qualify for free dental care. The program is meant to be as easy on parents as possible.

The clinic sees students two times a week — around 300 to 350 a year, Stanley said.

A bus transports the students to the dental clinic, the work is done for free and write-ups are delivered to the patient’s parents.

The clinic works just like any other dental office, Stanley said. Students sit in the waiting room, are called back by the dentist and, when they’re done, they get a goody bag with a toothbrush and a prize.

“In the beginning, there was such a great need of children that had obvious dental problems that could not attend school, and because it was an attendance issue and plus it was just a humanitarian issue because they were uninsured,” she said. “So our community actually got together and came up with a solution itself.”

Has own budget

Instead of operating out of the Auburn City Schools budget, the clinic has its own budget, Stanley said. It is funded through the school and the United Way of Greater Lee County. The clinic also accepts donations.

“When kids come into our school system and they qualify for these services, we provide it to all ages, kindergarten through 12th grade, and if we can get a kid that’s coming in at kindergarten that’ll need dental services, we can provide those services to them all the way through their career with Auburn City Schools,” said Daniel Chesser, Auburn City School’s public-relations specialist.

Local dentists

Local dentists give their time to the clinic for decreased pay, foregoing more profitable time they could spend at their own practices.

“We depend on local dentists to give us their time because it’s a reduced rate that they’re paid,” Chesser said. “… I think it’s really neat that you have the community buy-in from local dentists.”

Andy Donaldson is one of the dentists who chips in at the clinic.

“I’m always searching for ways to help out and see what’s going on,” he said.

Donaldson co-runs a dental practice in Auburn — Moore’s Mill Dental Care — when he’s not at the school clinic.

“Just the opportunity to help the kids that may not have access to care otherwise, I just find it rewarding, just to be able to do that,” he said.

His mother was involved with the clinic when Donaldson was in high school, so when he became a dentist, it was on his radar.

“We’re always open to contracting with anybody who’s interested to be a part of that,” Chesser said.

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