LMU-CDM and the Health Wagon Partner to Provide Dental Care to the Underserved

CDM and Health Wagon breaking ground on new dental clinic building

Friday May 13th, Lincoln Memorial University-College of Dental Medicine (LMU-CDM), the Health Wagon, and officials from Southwest Virginia gathered for the groundbreaking of the new Health Wagon Dental clinic based in Wise, Virginia. LMU-CDM dental hygiene students are projected to rotate at the 10-chair clinic beginning in 2023 and student doctors in 2024, pending accreditation from Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA).

Rendering of new dental building

Similar to LMU-CDM’s mission, the Health Wagon provides health care services to the medically underserved people in the Appalachia region. Health Wagon CEO Dr. Teresa Tyson said the idea to expand dental care to the region started nearly two-decades ago.

“This has been a dream of mine since sitting in a trailer office in Dickenson County and seeing our patients suffer with dental abscesses, said Tyson. We would treat them with antibiotics and tell them they absolutely had to go see a dentist. That never happened—they never had the money to go to the dentist. The patients would return after a couple of weeks and the cycle would repeat.”


LMU Chairman Autry O.V. “Pete” DeBusk was also in attendance and spoke about what a partnership between LMU-CDM and The Health Wagon can do for the people of the region.

LMU-CDM Dean and Chief Academic Officer Denise Terese-Koch, DDS spoke to the importance of oral health and how the partnership with the Health Wagon will benefit not only the community but the students who will be providing care.

“The oral cavity is the intersection between dentistry and medicine and a window into a patient’s systemic health. Hundreds of diseases and medications impact the oral cavity, and pathologic conditions in the mouth have a systemic impact,” said Terese-Koch. “The systemic conditions that are impacted by oral health include atherosclerotic vascular disease, pulmonary disease, diabetes, pregnancy-related complications, osteoporosis, and kidney disease. You cannot have good general health without good oral health.”

Terese-Koch mentioned there are more than two million individuals in East Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, and the Appalachian region who will now have the access to oral health care through the partnership with the Health Wagon.

“Thank you to everyone at the Health Wagon for your dedication to improving the oral health of the community and for providing educational opportunities for our students, said Terese-Koch.” 

LMU-CDM and Health Wagon members pose for a picture during the ground breaking eventLMU-CDM plans to welcome its inaugural class in the fall, pending accreditation. The four-year program, with more than 4,000 hours of clinical education is student centered, contemporary, competency-based curriculum and is designed based on the 39 American Dental Education Association's Competencies for the New General Dentist to ensure the learning experiences will lead to competence.

The Health Wagon is a nurse practitioner managed clinic that has been in existence since 1980 which provides free medical, dental and vision health care services in Lee, Scott, Wise, Dickenson, Buchanan and Russell Counties and Norton City. For more information about The Health Wagon, please call 276-328-8850 or visit www.thehealthwagon.org. If you would like to donate to the Health Wagon, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, please visit: www.thehealthwagon.org/donate.

Lincoln Memorial University is a values-based learning community dedicated to providing educational experiences in the liberal arts and professional studies.  The main campus is located in Harrogate, Tennessee. For more information about the undergraduate and graduate programs available at LMU, contact the Office of Admissions at 423-869-6280 or email at [email protected]

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