Honors Program

Midway Honors

Date of Award


Thesis Professor(s)

Deborah Dotson

Thesis Professor Department

Allied Health Sciences

Thesis Reader(s)

Tabitha Fair


Dental care has great importance in the overall health of every individual. Many do not realize the effect oral health plays in their overall health and many areas in the United States do not have access to the dental care needed to obtain proper healthcare standards. In many of these areas, such as the Appalachian region, dental services for low-income citizens are limited. Specifically, in the Northeast Tennessee region, these dental services are severely limited. Washington County and Hawkins County of Northeast Tennessee are specific underserved areas in the Appalachian region. The purpose of this project was to explore the services for low-income residents of upper East Tennessee (the Tri-Cities region) to analyze if the services being provided are utilized, if they are meeting the needs of the individuals that are utilizing the service, and if there are barriers for access to dental care for low-income East Tennesseans. In this research, we surveyed three of the four safety-net dental clinics in the Tri-Cities region to determine the number of patients seen in a year; number of dental appointments filled in a week; if they have volunteer, full-time, or part-time dentists; and if they would expand their dental services if they could; and reasons a patient could be turned away. After analyzing the surveys, there is a need for more accessible dental care in the Tri-Cities region. While these clinics are seeing many patients, there is a lack of dentists and a lack of extensive care being given, which is often what these patients are seeking. Possible solutions to this problem could be proper oral health education in schools and dental hygienists working alongside school nurses, forms of transportation for patients to safety-net dental clinics, a mobile in-home dental office, and HRSA grants for dental personnel.


East Tennessee State University

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Open Access

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


Copyright by the authors.