AHC Dental Program

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COLUMBIA - For low-income families, it can be tough to find quality, low-cost dental care.

The Columbia Housing Authority (CHA) is looking to help out, providing 150 people with free care starting June 21.

CHA partnered with MissouriCare, Columbia Urgent Care, and Hope Dental to create the event, which will last one week.

People can get services like deep cleaning, exams, fillings, extractions, and x-rays.

Columbia Housing Authority CEO Phil Steinhaus said the program helps contribute to CHA's goal of improving the overall welfare of all their residents.

"Lack of access to good dental care can have significant effect on the health and welfare of the person in the family," Steinhaus said. "Columbia Housing Authority strives to look at the whole person, not just provide housing, but to help them become self-sufficient"

According to the CHA press release, many of the people who will participate in the program have not had a dental exam in months, if not years. 70 of the participants who signed up for the event don't have any dental coverage.

CHA Family Self-Sufficiency Coordinator Sara Hardy is the one who organized the event. Hardy said low-income people, who make up the majority of CHA residents, have very limited access to dental care.

"There was a study back in 2014 that was released that said low-income people or impoverished people are three times more likely to lose all of their teeth due to dental disease or gingivitis or tooth decay," Hardy said. "And here at the Columbia Housing Authority, we serve the low-income population."

The Rotary Club of Columbia also contributed to the program to cover the cost of residents who don't have dental insurance.

President John Baker said the Rotary Club was very excited to help with the program, and the board accepted the proposal almost immediately.

"Dental care is such a huge huge need. And it’s not covered and it’s expensive for many people, and a lot of folks just don’t get the care they need," Baker said. "If some of this could be alleviated on the front end, through these kind of clinics, and it’s not just the folks who signed up this time, there are hundreds of other people in Columbia and Central Missouri that need this kind of care."

CHA and Hope Dental want to continue their partnership and host similar events in the future.

"We’ve been talking about doing it every six months," Hardy said. "That would allow for preventative care and continued care of the people that are seen this week."

The program will be at Oak Tower for two days, Paquin Tower for one day, and then the Columbia Urgent Care on Providence Road for four days.