Dental care is something most people put off because they don't have insurance, but students at Chattanooga State are helping fill the gap.

Abby Carmichael, a dental hygienist student at Chattanooga State, says, "It really helps to offer preventive services at a very low cost for people who don't have dental insurance or private practices have services at a higher cost."

There is always a steady flow of patients at the Chattanooga State Dental Hygiene Clinic, which demonstrates the need people in our area have for affordable dental care. Services include cleanings and x-rays.

Some health care experts point to recent statistics and say that Tennessee is experiencing a dental health crisis.

According to the CDC, more than one-third of the population in the volunteer state didn't visit a dentist in 2016, and more than half (53 percent) have lost six or more teeth.

It's important to remember that your dental health impacts a lot more than just your mouth. Dental problems can be a sign of chronic diseases.

Carmichael says, "Your oral health is related to your overall health, so it's really important to keep any kind of bacteria out of your mouth and out of your teeth." 

The dental students at Chattanooga State are hoping they can help patients before they get to that point.

Carmichael says, "With teeth that is one thing in the body that doesn't like to heal itself. So when you haven't had a cleaning in a while, that starts to eat away at the tooth and bone."

Students are looking for patients who have not been to the dentist in 3-5 years.

The dental clinic is open Monday through Thursday and children are free.

For more information or to make an appointment, call (423) 697-4488.