Editor’s intro: Recognition of the need for quality dental health care for the underserved, including the homeless and veterans, brings dental care with dignity to patients at New Horizon Dental Institute.
Dr. Justin Moody discusses giving implant dentists a chance to sharpen their skills while offering patients dental care with dignity
Since the inception of dental care, our profession has been giving back to society through humanitarian efforts. Most of us are familiar with mission trips to under-developed countries orchestrated by religious groups and academic institutes to help those in need. I have seen these efforts provide millions of people with life-changing if not lifesaving dental work in all corners of the world. Having been involved with a clinic in Guadalajara, Mexico, that is helping these very people, while giving dentists from around the world a chance to give back and sharpen their skills for their private practice, I discovered that this model works for all.
Many years later, I found myself at a similar U.S.-based clinic helping the homeless and veterans obtain the very best in dental implant care at low to no cost to them. It was here that I started to see the need for our help right here in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a U.S. worker is $44,564. The average cost of replacing a single tooth with a dental implant is somewhere north of $4,000, so we are asking people to spend more than 10% of their gross income on one tooth. This is why New Horizon Dental Institute was formed, not only for the homeless and veterans, but also for all who need some help putting their smiles back together.
In October 2017, a group of dentists, business owners, and philanthropic individuals sat down to discuss how to help. New Horizon Dental Institute was conceived, and the process started to form a true 501(c)(3) nonprofit dental clinic. The clinic takes insurance, Medicaid, Veterans’ benefits, and for a select few, grants for donated dental work. I am truly honored to have been elected the president of the board for this great organization, and our mission statement tells the story.
“We believe that dental wellness should not be reserved for the wealthy and that finances should never be the only barrier to receiving quality dental health care. As such, it is our mission to expand access to high-quality dental health care for under-served populations, including those less fortunate, homeless, and our nation’s veterans.”
The dental clinic opened in Tempe, Arizona, in April 2018, in large part to the efforts of several companies that never thought twice about supporting our organization. ACTEON® North America was one of the first companies to donate to the clinic. Taking care of our imaging and hygiene needs, they installed the new X-Mind® Trium Cone Beam CT machine, which is at the center of our clinical workflow. Henry Schein® Dental donated equipment and installation labor for much of the equipment in the facility. BioHorizons® dental implant systems donates the dental implants, prosthetic parts, and all the biologics for the work in the clinic; and companies such as Meisinger USA and Zoll-Dental came to the table with instruments, burs, and materials to stock the clinic. A big thank-you to the Oral Reconstruction Foundation for its generous financial support of the clinic — without all these companies and many more individuals, we wouldn’t be able to offer the services we do.
I am very involved with the training at the New Horizon Dental Center through the dental implant continuum, Implant Pathway. This continuing education continuum focuses entirely on the surgical placement of dental implants, and its mission is to help as many people receive the often life-changing benefits of dental implants while training dentists from around the country to place dental implants.
Through generous donations by individuals, corporations, and Implant Pathways to New Horizon Institute, hundreds of people have received dental implants and their smiles back.
Our professional team is truly kindhearted with their time and clinical expertise. Clinic director, Heather Wilson, DDS, grew up the oldest of six children in rural southwest Missouri. She earned her degree in biology at Missouri State University before going on to attend dental school at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. Before moving to the Valley, she worked in Seattle, Washington, serving in a community health clinic. She and her family were excited to move to Arizona when I presented her with the opportunity to fulfill her passion of giving the best in dental care solutions, including affordable dental implant and tooth replacement, to those in her community.
The clinical team also includes Selay Karbasi, DMD, an Arizona native who completed her Doctorate of Dental Medicine at the Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health. During her time in dental school, she participated in multiple dental mission trips and witnessed the impact that dentistry can have on her patients. Dr. Karbasi is beyond excited to bring the same passion and attention to her patients.
Chris Epperson, DMD, received his dental degree from A.T. Still University (Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health) in Mesa, Arizona. He discovered his passion for dentistry while on dental humanitarian trips to Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
New Horizon Dental Institute is currently celebrating its 1-year anniversary and is happy to report that we are doing exactly what we set out to do! With one full-time dentist, two part-time dentists, and a team of 10 dedicated individuals, we are helping deliver more smiles and laughter than we ever could have imagined. In the first year alone, we have placed 1,788 dental implants on over 375 people, accounting for nearly $4 million in donated dental services. Clinic services also include comprehensive exams, fillings, cleanings, X-rays, root canals, extractions, oral surgery, and crowns. Each and every patient is treated with the same dignity and respect that we all deserve as humans. Serving the greater Phoenix, Arizona, area and beyond, we have seen patients from 14 states and do not limit our care to only those in Arizona.
For more information on the clinic and how to help, please visit the website at www.newhorizondental.org.
Implant dentist M. Joe Mehranfar is also dedicated to bringing dental care with dignity to those in need. Read more about his penchant for mentoring and providing his dental expertise regardless of financial status.