ECU dental school reaches 100,000 patients served across North Carolina

The East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine has surpassed 100,000 patients cared for through its campus and hospital clinics, community service learning centers and special care initiatives.

“This is a landmark moment for ECU and the School of Dental Medicine,” said ECU Chancellor Philip Rogers. “This is not only a milestone, but also a mile marker, as we are just getting started. It is a reminder that we are upholding a promise we made to the people of our state to prepare new dentist leaders and increase access to oral health care for patients everywhere, including our most rural communities.”

The School of Dental Medicine opened its doors to students in 2011, driven by a mission of preparing dentist leaders and increasing access to oral health care for patients across the state, especially in rural and underserved communities.

“Celebrating this milestone is not just about a number,” said Dr. Greg Chadwick, dean of the ECU School of Dental Medicine. “It is about educating the next generation of dentists as we provided much needed care to 100,000 North Carolinians, many of whom may not have had access to this care if it were not for our community service learning centers across the state, as well as our supporters and donors who have been there from the beginning.”

The School of Dental Medicine operates clinics in its campus facility, Ross Hall, and a hospital dentistry clinic in ECU Health Medical Center. It also runs eight community service learning centers, situated from the mountains to the coast, which provide more accessible care to patients in surrounding communities and offer rigorous and well-rounded clinical experiences for dental students and residents. Special-care events like ECU Smiles for Veterans and school-based oral health care programs in Jones and Bertie counties, as well as a clinic in Hyde County, offer additional resources for patients in eastern North Carolina and beyond.

The school’s first class graduated in 2015. There are now more than 450 graduates, 90% of whom practice dentistry in North Carolina. The average dental school debt of the 2023 graduates was $138,022, which is substantially less than the national average, facilitating more graduates to serve communities of need in North Carolina.

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