Blue Ridge Free Dental Clinic

CashiersRotary BlueRidgeDentalClinicThe Blue Ridge Free Dental Clinic delivers high-quality dental care to people who cannot otherwise afford these critically needed services.


The Need

The Blue Ridge Free Dental Clinic serves a tri-county area of the Blue Ridge Mountains — an economically challenged region of the southern United States, tucked away in the far western corner of North Carolina near the southern end of the Appalachian Mountain range. A mountainous and rural area, it is sparsely populated and offers limited commercial employment opportunities. A large percentage of the population is underemployed and without health care insurance.

CashiersRotary BlueRidgeDentalClinic02Medicare does not provide any dental services, and while Medicaid provides limited dental assistance, large portions of the needy population, particularly the working poor, do not qualify for that program. As a result, many of our patients have gone for years or even a lifetime without preventative dental care. This leads to critical issues of tooth decay, infection and life-destroying situations where basic nutrition, employment and family life take a back seat to constant, and often debilitating, pain and embarrassment.  In some cases, hospital emergency rooms and low-income medical clinics provide temporary treatment for pain and infection, but medicine alone cannot deal with the rotten teeth that must be addressed for the patient to have a normal life — or in some cases, even to survive. Restorative procedures such as complex fillings, root canals, crowns and dentures are necessary to restore a normal appearance and smile to people disfigured by dental disease. These procedures are simply not available to poor residents of the Blue Ridge Mountains, other than at the Free Dental Clinic.

The People We Serve

The Blue Ridge Free Dental Clinic serves poverty-level patients from Jackson, Macon and Transylvania Counties. We give priority to patients who, due to pain or infection, require dental treatment most urgently.  At any given time, our waiting list ranges from 300 to 400 patients. Those in greatest need are seen by our dentists as soon as possible, but the emergency waiting list still typically ranges from 25 to 100. Unfortunately, some patients in severe pain may still wait weeks due to overwhelming demand for the Clinic's services.

The Tooth Fairies

CashiersRotary ToothFairiesThe main objective of the Order of the Tooth Fairies is to increase the public's awareness of the Blue Ridge Free Dental Clinic in Jackson, Macon and Transylvania Counties, and to do it in a fun-loving manner. Upon joining the Order, each fairy receives his own wings, tutu and larger-than-life toothbrush in a coordinating color. Shameless enthusiasm, a great sense of humor and an unwavering dedication to the cause are definitely required!

Today's Order of the Tooth Fairies include the following wonderful collection of big men with even bigger hearts — Ron Keller, Carl Hyde, Ron Kandell, Pat Cunningham, Joe Goldberg, Dick Rosedale, Ed Morse, Mike Devine, Gary Leedham and Ron Freeman. We love you guys!

The Tooth Fairies can be spotted at holiday parades and other local events throughout the year. They also participate in fundraising activities and dental hygiene education.