MOUNT VERNON — The Knox County Community Health Center’s new dentist will mainly focus on dental examinations, fillings, and extractions — though his background as an urgent care dentist means he can handle nearly any procedure, with immediacy.
Dan Saale, DDS, received his doctorate of dental surgery at Northwestern University. Most recently, he worked at Immediadent Urgent Dental Care in Columbus. He worked with patients of all types, including those with severe drug issues and immigrants to the United States who have lacked dental care access previously. He has joined the Community Health Center’s Dental Clinic for a few reasons, one being to get away from the grind of 12-hour shifts.
“I’ve done every aspect of dentistry — private practice, corporate dentistry, and now with the Knox County Health Department,” Saale, 60, offered. “I will I enjoy being able to give back to a community by serving those with dental needs.”
Throughout his dentistry career, Saale said he has worked on dental issues coming from some unfortunate trends. One has been seeing, over time, sugar-filled soft drinks take over as some children’s main beverages, at the sacrifice of milk — which used to be children’s top beverage and is good for growing teeth, he said. He has also seen people with limited incomes avoid coming to the dentist because of affordability issues, which has been costly to not just their dental health, but their overall health. Visiting a dentist regularly prevents so many future problems, he said.
“Good dental health is part of your overall healthy lifestyle,” Saale said. “One, you want to be able to smile and present yourself. You also want to be able to chew your food properly for good digestion. You’ll have a lot of severe problems if you’re not able to chew your food.”
Smoking is another poor lifestyle choice that damages dental health, he noted. “If a person smokes, they are five to six times more likely to lose teeth than if they don’t smoke. And they don’t put that on the cigarette pack.”
Saale works with two dental assistants and a certified dental hygienist, Laura Nance, as well as an oral surgeon, John Cheek, DDS, who handles some of the more intensive extractions. Cheek is on site at the dental clinic about one day per week, usually on Fridays, said county health department Spokesperson Pam Palm.
Other services include routine teeth cleanings, fillings, sealants, extractions, X-rays, and fluoride treatment.
The Community Health Center at the Knox County Health Department, 11660 Upper Gilchrist Road, takes most forms of insurance. Fees are charged on an income-based sliding scale, and in many instances reduced rates are offered to patients, Palm said.
In 2018, all dental visits to the clinic totaled 3,705, with 2,257 total patients served; of the larger figure, 1,957 patients saw the dentist, and 1,748 saw the oral hygienist, according to data provided by Lane Belangia, CEO of the Knox County Community Health Center.
Dental clinic hours at the Community Health Center, 11660 Upper Gilchrist Road, are Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call 740-392-2200 or visit www.knoxhealth.com.