Community DentCare Program

Bringing Care to the Community

Daniel Lopez and students speak with a patient at a screening event

Many members of our community face barriers to accessing dental care and other health care. Recognizing this, Columbia University College of Dental Medicine launched its Community DentCare program in 1996 to help address these disparities, with special focus on children and the vulnerable elderly. We partner with around 70 neighborhood organizations to provide health screenings and dental services at sites around Northern Manhattan and the South Bronx. DentCare offers these services regardless of ability to pay.

DentCare has so far logged more than 150,000 patient care visits.

A girl on board the mobile clinic holds a model of a mouth

How We Work

Columbia fosters relationships with community partners—collectively called the Community DentCare Network—to coordinate visits to their locations. Partners include Head Start centers, schools, foster care facilities, senior citizen and community centers, and child care centers. Dental faculty, hygienists, and trainees provide care onboard our Mobile Dental Center or directly on site.

Mobile Dental Center

DentCare operates a 35-foot-long mobile clinic outfitted for comprehensive dental care and oral health education. Inside the clinic are two state-of-the-art dental chairs, X-ray equipment, and a patient education and reception area. The Mobile Dental Center also has a lift to bring wheelchair-bound patients on board.

Exterior of the mobile dental center

We offer a number of services aboard the mobile clinic including exams, cleanings, fillings, extractions, crowns, sealants, and fluoride treatment.

The College of Dental Medicine gratefully acknowledges the Delta Dental Community Care Foundation, whose Access to Care Grant provided the funds to build the current mobile clinic, launched in fall 2021.

ElderSmile

A dental student examines a patient's mouth at a screening, while other students speak with a patient in the background

The DentCare team offers oral health care workshops, health screenings, and referrals to senior citizens in Washington Heights/Inwood and Central Harlem through its ElderSmile program. Preventive care is a main focus of ElderSmile: Visits feature screenings for oral cancer, hypertension, and/or diabetes as well as culturally sensitive health education.

Reaching Further: New Collaborations

DentCare is exploring several new collaborations to improve access to care.

  • The College of Dental Medicine is forging a partnership with four PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) centers administered by ArchCare. This collaboration will enable DentCare to deliver oral health disease management services to participants of the PACE centers and other community sites.
  • A pilot project to address the oral health care needs of the homebound in our community through telehealth is in underway with Columbia’s School of Nursing.
  • Working with the NYP Ambulatory Care Network, we plan to provide vaccinations and preventive services to children on the Mobile Dental Center.
  • We are piloting alternative models of care, including telehealth, interdisciplinary care, and mobile dentistry, with NYP at I.S. 141.

Community Partners

Addie Mae Collins Head Start 3

Allen Hospital Health OutReach

Betances Early Childhood Center

Cardinal McCloskey Community Services Foster Care

Childrens Aid Society College Prep Early Childhood

Children's Aid Society CS211

Children's Aid Society Early Childhood

Children's Aid Society Early HeadStart P.S. 152

Citizens Advice Bureau BronxWorks

Community Life Center Mt Morris Head Start

Dorothy Day Head Start

Early Life Center

Early Life Center 145

Early Life 147

Early Life Morris Heights

Early Life Center Watson Ave

East Calvary Nursery School

Early Childhood Development Organization

Early Childhood Development Organization #2

El Corazon Neighborhood NORC

Escalera Head Start

Fort George Headstart

Fort George Headstart Center #2

Fort George Vista NORC

Grant Houses; Jackie Robinson Community Center

Harlem Children Zone Grads Early Head Start

Help Morris Early Childhood

Help USA Crotona Day Care

I.S. 52 High School of Excellence & Innovation Early College & Career School

I.S. 143 Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School

I.S. 164/M.S. 328 Community Math and Science Prep/ Washington Heights-Inwood Music School

Kingsbridge Heights Community Center

Kingsbridge Heights Child Care Center 2

Kipps Star Washington Height Elementary School (NYC-DOE PUBLIC SCHOOL)

Leggett Memorial Child Care Center

Magnet School of Inquiry & Expression P.S. 189 (NYC DOE PUBLIC SCHOOL)

Mama Tingo Child Care & Learning Center

Mama Tingo Early Head Start

Manhattanville Senior Center

Marble Hill Senior Center

Mid Bronx CCRP Head Start

Mid Bronx CCRP Early Childhood Center

Morningside Day Care

Nasry Michelen Day Care Center

Nicholas Cardell Day Care Center

Northern Manhattan Head Start

P.S. 8 Hugo Newman College Preparatory School

Pequeno Souls Day Care

Percy Sutton Educational Complex Mott Hall High School - Knowledge and Power Preparatory Academy IV / Eagle Academy for Young Men of Harlem

Randolph Houses Community Center

Reach One to Teach One

Rena Day Care Center

River Terrace NORC

The Riverside School for Makers and Artist PS/IS 191 (NYC DOE Public School)

Round the Clock Nursery 145st

Round the Clock Nursery Bronx

Seventh Ave. Mennonite Headstart (Bronx)

Sharon Baptist Head Starst

Sheltering Arms Day Care

Sheltering Arms Morningside Day Care

Sheltering Arms Harriet Tubman Early Childhood Education Center

Sugar Hill Day Care

Thurgood Marshall Academy

Trabajamos Community Head Start

UFBCO: United Federation - Black Community Organizations

Union Carver Child Care Center

Union Johnson Early Childhood Center

Union Washington Child Care Center

Uptown Harlem Gems

VISTA NORC

Washington Heights Child Care Center

Wilson Major Morris Community Center

3333 Broadway Tenants Association

2995 Independence Avenue Tenants Association

Meet Our Team

  • Amy Herbert, DDS

    DentCare Director for Community Engagement and Partnerships

    Dr. Herbert received her DDS from the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine and a certificate in pediatric dentistry from Howard University. Throughout her career, Dr. Herbert has maintained a focus on improving access and health system experiences of people in underserved communities. She is also active in the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and community and global programs.

  • Julia Tepper, DDS

    Lead Faculty for Community Programs

    Dr. Tepper earned her DDS and completed postgraduate training in the Advanced Education in General Dentistry program at the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine. A major focus of Dr. Tepper’s work is on providing care for the elderly, and she also teaches predoctoral students and delivers care in the College of Dental Medicine’s faculty and community practice.

  • Daniel Lopez, RDH

    Community Dental Health Coordinator

    Born and raised in New York City, Daniel Lopez is dedicated to helping those most in need and giving back to the communities he came from. Originally a classically trained pastry chef, Daniel turned to dental hygiene as a career that would allow him to have more impact on people’s lives. Daniel has spent the last decade working in dental public health, primarily in the service of people living with HIV/AIDS and those of the LGBQTIA community at Callen-Lorde Community Health Center. He has a passion for and regularly attends global medical mission trips, while also participating in local public health outreach. Daniel is the first community dental health coordinator in New York City.

  • Trainees at the College of Dental Medicine

    Dental students in the predoctoral and residency programs at CDM are a crucial part of DentCare—and DentCare is a significant part of their education. As they participate in these service-learning opportunities, trainees receive on-the-ground experience providing compassionate care to underserved members of our community and gain a close appreciation for the many social and environmental factors that impact health.

Looking for Dental Care?

Columbia's DentCare program works with partners in the Community DentCare Network to organize visits. Although we cannot visit non-Network sites upon request, the College of Dental Medicine offers low-cost comprehensive dental care to the public at its clinics in Washington Heights—including the Community Practice, which is open certain evenings and weekends. You can learn more about our teaching clinics and how to make an appointment in the Patient Care section of our website or by calling 212-305-6100.

Do you represent a community organization interested in joining the Community DentCare Network? Please reach out to us using the contact information below.

Contact Community DentCare

Photos by Eileen Barroso/Columbia University