Difference Makers: Dental Students Give Nursing Home Residents a Reason to Smile

This story will put a smile on your face.

Alabama dental students are gaining hands on experience at Fair Haven Retirement Community in Birmingham.

A feature story in the latest edition of the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s UAB Magazine reports on the progress of the state’s only geriatric dental clinic located in a senior living community.

According to the article, the clinic began in 2010 with little more than determination and some spin brushes.

“Since then, the operation has grown into a dedicated, full-service dental clinic…providing cleanings, extractions, fillings, dentures, crowns, radiographs, and care for prostheses and implants. Support from Fair Haven, the School of Dentistry, the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, and Henry Schein Dental makes the clinic possible.”

Because of Fair Haven, students gain first hand experience of the unique dental and health challenges facing senior citizens.

“We want to teach the students to examine the mouth and teeth, but they also have to look at the whole person,” Lillian Mitchell, D.D.S., UAB Director of Geriatric Dentistry. “The geriatric clinic gives them the opportunity, resources, and time to do that.”

“Geriatrics doesn’t get enough attention, but it’s one of the most important areas of dentistry,” third-year dental student D’Andrea Nekelle Holmes says. “Older people’s dental health has a direct influence on their overall health. If they can’t chew, then it affects how they eat, and they won’t get the nutrition they need. Or if they take a lot of medications, that can cause things like dry mouth. Serious periodontal diseases are also common. So as much as older Americans go to their physicians, they need to visit the dentist as least as much.”

The complete article from UAB Magazine can be found here.

Photo credit: Steve Wood, University of Alabama at Birmingham.

The UAB School of Dentistry faculty and students are Difference Makers because they are improving the lives of nursing home residents.

And that puts a smile on our face.

From ANHA’s Archives: Dental Clinic Ribbon Cutting in 2011

FairHavenRibbonCuttingThis picture was taken on November 10, 2011, when Fair Haven Retirement Community and the UAB School of Dentistry cut the ribbon on the Fair Haven Oral Health Center. Pictured from left to right are: Methodist Homes Corporation President and CEO Christopher Tomlin, former Fair Haven Administrator Trent Jackson, UAB Director of Geriatric Dentistry Lillian Mitchell, DDS, and UAB School of Dentistry Dean Michael Reedy, DMD, DMSc.


About Fair Haven Retirement Community:

Fair Haven Retirement Community is located in Birmingham, and offers a continuum of long term care services. For information, click here.

For more information about the UAB School of Dentistry, click here.

Additional articles from UAB Magazine can be found here.

By | 2018-01-01T20:37:13+00:00 January 8th, 2015|Difference Makers|2 Comments


  1. - Why We’re Thankful November 23, 2015 at 2:10 pm - Reply

    […] we’re thankful for nursing home residents. They give us a reason to smile and remind us what we do is […]

  2. Diane Jeffrey July 14, 2016 at 7:35 pm - Reply

    Such a generous and well thought of gesture, this is just amazing! When you put yourself aside and think what good deeds you can do to help those around you, great things happen! Geriatrics needs just as much love and thoughtfulness as we do.

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