Grant Story: A community of healthier smiles

November 23, 2021

Katie Berkedal, Program DirectorBy Katie Berkedal, Program Director

All access dental clinicA story worth smiling about

As we look back on the past year and half, it has often felt hard to find things to smile about. Thanks to Scenic Bluffs Dental Clinic opening in September of 2020 there are many more reasons for our community members to smile.

An identified gap in local dental care

With almost a third of La Crosse residents not having access to a dentist, it’s no wonder that over a thousand people each year end up in our local emergency rooms with dental pain and infections. Dental problems impact eating, speaking, self-esteem and employability, and is also directly linked to negative long-term overall health. This lack of care also creates a negative economic impact, as dental needs become emergent, they become more expensive to treat.

With the help of a grant in autumn of 2019, and the support of other community funders, a new partnership between Scenic Bluffs Community Health Center and Gundersen Health System was developed to help diminish the dental crisis in our community.  The Scenic Bluffs Dental Clinic was established to be the first all-access, federally qualified dental clinic in the La Crosse area.

A successful first year

It’s safe to say the impact this dental clinic has already made will be long lasting. Just over a year after Scenic Bluffs Dental Clinic first opened their doors, they have now served over 372 dental appointments.

Prior to this location opening, the closest federally qualified health center in the area was in Cashton, which has a 3-year waiting list. This La Crosse location has shortened the wait time for our residents to be seen by a dental provider, and has also helped to alleviate Cashton’s availability constraints.

Community dental goals for the future

With a full-time dentist and hygienist, approximately 2100 patients can be served in a year. One main goal is to reduce the number of preventable dental-related emergency or urgent care visits at Gundersen Health System, which currently averages 35 per month.

This partnership is leading the way to fix this dental access problem for our residents. Learn even more about the clinic here.

Want more to smile about?

Check out all the LCF funds that you can help support here.