Community Dental Clinic celebrates 10 years in Martinsville

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MARTINSVILLE (WSLS 10) - The Community Dental Clinic in Martinsville hit a major milestone Thursday.

The clinic has now been operating for ten years.

In that time, it's provided around eight million dollars worth of care to more than 37 thousand individual patients.

At the clinic, people can sit in a dentist chair for an average of 20 to 25 dollars a visit.

It's a service that's become a model for others around the country.

Melissa Hopkins says it's a service she and her daughter began using 10 years ago.

"I think it's pretty magnificent because they don't have to worry about how their kids are going to get treated," said Hopkins.

Hopkins says without insurance, this is the only way her family can have their dental needs met.

"I had cavities and I also had to have a root canal, and over the years I've had my wisdom teeth removed, and I have pretty teeth now," said Hopkins.

Founder Mark Crabtree says he began the practice in Martinsville after a major factory closed down.

"People were left without insurance and without access to care and it came to a critical point," said Crabtree.

In a decade, thousands of jobs have been lost in the area, with names like Stanley Furniture, Masterbrand Cabinets, Hooker Furniture, and Mod-u-Kraf Homes all closing their factories.

Larry Law says he lost his job about four years ago.

"I remember when I used to work at Toltec and it was pitiful around here as far as jobs and the economy was booming, but now it's going to be a downhill sliding," said Law.

To meet that need, Crabtree has dental students from Virginia Commonwealth University provide care for the clinic.

Lauren Jones is originally from Martinsville.

"The entire reason that I went into this field of dentistry is because I saw the impact that it made on people that were less fortunate than I was and I wanted to give back to the community that helped raise me," said Jones.

There's evidence to show what students like Jones give back helps more than just the patients.

In it's 10 years, the amount of people heading to the emergency room at Martinsville Memorial Hospital for dental-related emergencies has dropped 34 percent.

Just another reason why Hopkins says for her, the service is a godsend.

"We definitely need to keep it open for another 10 years," said Hopkins.

Last year alone, the clinic saw a 15 percent increase in patients, so Crabtree says he expects his services to continue for another 10 years to come.