Free dental clinic moves to Dayton’s Bluff

Hope Dental Clinic, the largest free dental clinic in Minnesota, has moved to the Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood. 

The 53-year-old clinic used to be a part of the Union Gospel Mission, but has now established itself as its own, independent nonprofit.

It’s now located on the fourth floor at 800 Minnehaha Ave. E. and is open to anyone seeking dental care. The new location has space for six operatories and is 30 percent larger than the space the clinic had at Union Gospel Mission.

Services are offered on a “pay-what-you-can” scale, but the clinic does not turn patients away who cannot pay.

The clinic is staffed by 400 to 500 volunteers from across the Twin Cities — many who are students from local dentistry schools — and 11 paid staff members. Hope Dental Clinic served some 2,400 patients in 2017.

Dr. Dan Shannon, from Roseville, has volunteered at the clinic for 45 years, since he was 23 years old. He said in the beginning, about 45 dentists volunteered at the clinic.

While he sold his own practice a few years ago, he continues to work at a dental clinic in Roseville. About four times a year he spends an evening at Hope Dental Clinic, where he and other dentists help patients with dental emergencies. 

He said he first became involved through donating dental equipment to Union Gospel. When he was dropping off the equipment, someone there mentioned they needed volunteer dentists, and Shannon said it just felt like the right thing to do. 

While Shannon said that in the evenings they often deal more with dental emergencies — infections, extractions and other painful conditions — the clinic does offer exams, cleanings, sealants, fillings and other less urgent dental needs.

“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity to give back,” Shannon said. “It’s gratifying to see folks appreciative of care, knowing that it made life a little better for them.”

He said there really is no “average” patient at the clinic — he’s worked with families, people who are homeless, those who are underemployed or unemployed — people from all kinds of backgrounds.

“I think [the patients] can be assured that it will be high-quality care,” Shannon said, adding that the volunteers working there genuinely care about the patients.

“It’s very open, accessible and people are welcome to come no matter if they are struggling,” he said. 

With the new facility, Hope Dental is hoping to not only attract potential donors, but also to expand its mobile dentistry and educational programming at local schools and organizations. It also holds treatment events like “Give Kids a Smile” and “St. Paul Dental Connect.”

“We have greater opportunities now to connect and partner with more organizations,” said executive director Jessica Flotterud. 

For those who need dental services, call Hope Dental Clinic at 651-789-7605 to set up an appointment. The clinic does ask for a $20 administrative fee for appointments, but will not turn patients away if it’s burdensome. For more information go to www.hopedentalclinic.org.

 


– Marjorie Otto can be reached at 651-748-7816 or at eastside@lillienews.com. Follow her on Twitter at @EastSideM_Otto.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet
Comment Here