business highlight: community dental Health
By Anthony Welch
Michelle Vacha has always enjoyed having her teeth cleaned. It’s a small part of why she went into dentistry. The bigger part is helping people.
“I’m passionate about the importance of people’s smiles and dental health. It’s rewarding making a difference in every person’s life,” said Vacha, founder and executive director of Community Dental Health.
Mobile dental health
Prior to her career in dental hygiene, Vacha worked as a dental assistant. Her 30 years in dentistry brought to her attention the difficulties the elderly face in receiving professional dental and dental hygiene care, as well as the resulting disease and neglect.
“I saw how hard it was for the aging population to come to the dental office. It was much easier for me to go see them,” she said.
Vacha and her husband Mike created the nonprofit Senior Mobile Dental in 2006 to provide dental care to residents in nursing and senior residential facilities. In 2012, the organization received grant support to provide dental care in the community for people aging in place.
“We focused on seniors because of the difficulties they faced receiving dental care. Whether you’re low income or not, our philosophy is to provide much needed, individualized care and focus on what’s truly needed,” said Vacha.
The couple opened offices in Denver, Colorado Springs and Pueblo, while continuing to provide preventive dental care in long-term care facilities. Vacha recruited an entire dental team to provide services that included fillings, extractions, dentures, cleanings and X-rays.
Eventually, Vacha decided to turn her focus to southern Colorado and closed the Denver office. In 2018, the 501(c)(3) organization changed its name from Senior Mobile Dental to Community Dental Health.
“We went through a name change because everyone thought we operated out of a bus or motor- home,” Vacha explained. “But we were going into the senior facilities.”
Seniors make up 75 percent of Community Dental Health’s patients, according to Vacha. The two offices serve around 160 patients a week and have provided $3 million of dental care since the organization opened.
“Even if somebody is not low income, our fees are typically half of what they would be at a private dental practice,” Vacha added.
Community Dental Health believes in traditional dental care. As a result, the clinic does not provide implants, bridges and cosmetic procedures such as veneers. Instead, its focus is on treating active decay and disease by providing basic dental services such as:
• Periodontal and preventive dental cleanings
• Silver diamine fluoride treatment
• Fluoride varnish
• Composite/tooth-colored fillings
• Emergency needs
• Partial and full dentures
Along with grant support, Community Dental Health accepts Medicaid and works with other foundations to help make dental care affordable for seniors and veterans.
Call 719-310-3315 to schedule an appointment today! For details, visit http://www.CommunityDentalHealth.org. ■