Dental hygienist wins News 5 Jefferson Award
Community Dental Health offices in Colorado Springs are like any other dental office. The big difference: the prices.
“It can cost $10 for a filling, $10 for an extraction, or $60 for a prosthesis,” Michelle Vacha said.
Vacha is the founder and executive director of Community Dental Health. She is determined to keep prices low, but care high.
“Even though we’re a charity, there’s a misperception that you get a $10 filler, you don’t get the best care,” Vacha said. “You get premium care. There’s no difference in the care you get just because you’re not paying $100, $200, or $500.”
Her dream of having this practice began with a mission to bring healing to people who simply did not benefit from it.
“Nursing home residents weren’t having their teeth brushed daily,” she said.
Vacha left private practice as a dental hygienist and in 2006 established the non-profit Senior Mobile Dental providing services to nursing homes and wherever seniors congregate.
“Colorado was the very first state in the country to allow a hygienist to practice outside the dental office,” she said.
At first, Vacha offered its services for free or at very low cost. When asked how she could afford it, Vacha said: “I was a low-income family and although it was difficult, it was one of the greatest experiences because we also followed the path of the people I serve now.”
When asked why she was willing to do this, Vacha replied, “The need and to do something that was right.”
As the needs grew, she started two dental practices now called Community Dental Health.
“I have dentists, oral surgeons, dental technicians, dental hygienists and all the support staff.” she says.
Patient Richard Clark says getting the dental care he needed just wasn’t affordable on his fixed income. He said the discovery of community dental health was a godsend.
“It was just breaking the bank on Social Security and my military retirement,” Clark said.
Clark says the staff treats you more like a dear friend than a patient.
“The staff is phenomenal,” Clark said. “They’re courteous and kind. They don’t look at status. They see with anyone who needs help and they’re there to guide.”
Community Dental Health is open to any adult in our community. They have offices in Colorado Springs and Pueblo. For more information, click here: https://communitydentalhealth.org/.
The Jefferson Awards were started by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in 1972. The award has honored the incredible spirit and unique achievements of more than 63,000 national and local heroes who have demonstrated selfless public service. To nominate someone for a News 5 Jefferson Award, click here: https://www.koaa.com/community/jefferson-awards
Watch KOAA News5 anytime, anytime with our free streaming app available for your Roku, FireTV, AppleTV, and Android TV. Just search for KOAA News5, download and start watching.