The Community Care Center of Forsyth County in Winston-Salem, North Carolina is a free and charitable medical clinic, providing comprehensive health care services and access to medication to uninsured patients who fall within the health care coverage gap: they do not qualify for government coverage and cannot afford private insurance. In addition to comprehensive medical care, the Community Care Center has provided some free dental services on a very limited basis. The CCME Foundation provided a $50,000 grant to begin a dental hygiene program to expand dental care services and preventative treatment to its patients.  

Jannette Whisenhunt, RDH, PhD, the retired Director of Dental Education at Forsyth Technical Community College, was hired to assist the clinic in expanding its dental services to serve patients. In addition to providing dental hygiene services herself, she coordinates the services of approximately 12 volunteer dentists, who previously had not been providing dental care at the clinic. The grant increased the number of part time dental hygienists regularly serving the patients. One goal of the program was to double the number of patients served by engaging additional dentists and hygienists to provide these services.  

Patients who use the Community Care Center suffer from a lack of basic dental care, which affects the overall health of these individuals. Usually, uninsured patients can receive tooth extractions only; however, the preventative dental care provided by dental hygienists addresses the patients’ needs for preventing gum disease, tooth decay, and assists them with combatting inflammation, which drastically affects the diabetic patients at the clinic (40% of the patient population at the Community Care Center).  

Oftentimes, patients have needed three to four visits to get their teeth fully cleaned. Due to the high percentage of diabetic patients, the Community Care Clinic’s program has focused on getting their oral inflammation under control, which has improved their sugar levels. In addition, the program aims to educate patients about dental hygiene, the disease process, and how preventative dental care helps improve their overall health.  

After receiving dental care at the clinic, patients have been very grateful for the improvement in their health, especially because there are no other organizations in the area providing preventative dental care for the uninsured population. From June to December 2023, the clinic provided $54,000 worth of dental services to patients. Because of the grant’s impact, the clinic provided over $30,000 worth of services in just the first six weeks of 2024. “We have a lot of patients who never had their teeth cleaned. It’s been wonderful to see the increase in health because of the dental services that we can provide. It’s been fantastic,” stated Dr. Whisenhunt.    

To learn more about the work of Community Care Center in Winston-Salem, please visit