Welcome to the website for the proposed Bluefield College School of Dental Medicine. The school is proud to be a part of Bluefield College, which is an inclusive Christ-centered learning community developing transformational servant leaders. Many people are working tirelessly to make this dream for Central Appalachia a reality. The School of Dental Medicine is a joint public-private partnership between Tazewell County and Bluefield College. The county is looking to continue the economic redevelopment strides made by the Appalachian College of Pharmacy in Oakwood, Virginia, and the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, Virginia. The college is bolstering its academic portfolio while offering both a health professions education and addressing the need for increased numbers of young service-oriented dentists in the region.
The current plan is to accept the inaugural class of 65 students to start the four-year Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) program in August, 2016. All appropriate accreditation affirmations will be obtained before beginning the program. The proposed School of Dental Medicine will graduate dentists who are well-prepared to enter the independent practice of general dentistry or be competitive for additional training in general dentistry or the dental specialties. The focus of the school will be on training graduates to provide care for the underserved areas of southwestern Virginia, southern West Virginia, and the contiguous Central Appalachian region. Training is planned to be conducted at our state-of-the-art educational and clinical facility located at The Bluestone Business and Technology Park in Tazewell County, Virginia, as well as at community health centers throughout the region.
The need to both improve the oral health of the citizens of the region and to increase the supply of dentists, particularly young dentists, is well documented. There are significant health care disparities, including oral health disparities, and the number of dentists per population in Central Appalachia is about half the national average. Improving the oral health and, by extension, the general health of the population will require a multi-faceted approach. Treating existing dental decay, gum disease, and the replacement of missing teeth is one facet. More important over the long term is to change peoples’ expectations for how long they can keep their teeth (teeth can last a lifetime if properly cared for) and change behaviors to improve oral health. In less than five minutes a day, proper oral hygiene (brushing and flossing) can ensure a lifetime of good service from natural teeth. The school will also conduct research to measure the current and future disease patterns and test ways to change personal behaviors.
Please visit other areas of the school’s website to see our vision and mission and overview for prospective students. We look forward to having a major impact on Tazewell County and Central Appalachia for decades to come.